The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) just reported that on average, three million workers are injured on the job every year, and for approximately 4,500 workers those injuries are fatal. Year after year, the statistics regarding workplace dangers remain the same. What is the #1 cause of accidents? Falls.
Who gets injured or killed most often in workplace falls? Workers in the construction industry. Year after year. Despite numerous improvements and awareness of the problem, it's still far too dangerous for construction workers out there, given the statistics. Employers should take precautions, but often they do not, willing to take a chance with workers' safety-and their lives. Unfortunately, you often have to look out for yourself.
So what can you do when you enter a new worksite?
Unfortunately, you're going to have to do a safety inspection yourself when you arrive at a project, just to make sure your employers are doing the right things. Make sure you have a good grasp of what's legal...and what isn't. Did you know that:
- Employers are required to provide the safety equipment you need on the job (such as a safety harness) at no cost to you?
- Employers have to give you training on any possible hazards before you begin the work?
- All open holes in the floor must be covered or blocked off by a railing?
- Guard rails have to be constructed around any open-sided platform?
- Stair railings, hand rails and safety nets are required on some jobs?
If the above conditions are not met, you're putting yourself at risk.
But what if a fall already happened to you?
Maybe you slipped, or stumbled on a wet, cluttered floor at work-or maybe it was a fall from a ladder. At the time, it didn't seem serious. You brushed it off as "no big deal" around your work buddies. You didn't want to make a scene. However, later in the day you began to feel worse, and by nighttime your back or legs were practically screaming in pain. Now you're not able to work the next day, or the day after that. Is it too late to report the accident or point out the lack of safety precautions?
No. And you're not alone. You have the right to a safe workplace, and you have options. You may be able to make a case for workers' compensation if you're suffered an injury at work. Talk to an attorney if you need guidance. Construction is a dangerous business and workers shouldn't pay the price for needless accidents.