Workplace falls from heights continue to kill Pennsylvania workers, according to records compiled by Philaposh, a Philadelphia-based worker safety advocacy group. Philaposh reached its conclusions using fatality records of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other media reports. All these incidents were likely preventable.
Some of the falls were falls from roofs. For example, one worker fell 114 feet from the roof of a Philadelphia hospital. Another worker fell from a wet roof, and still another worker fell from a metal roof. OSHA has specific regulations applicable to work on roofs. Although these regulations are far weaker than they should be, they still serve to prevent many fall injuries. There are regulations applicable to both low slope roofs and roofs with higher slopes.
According to OSHA, in the construction industry in the United States, falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. Each year, some 150 to 200 workers are killed nationally as a result of falls at construction sites. OSHA regulations found at 29 C.F.R. 1926.500-503 are designed to prevent employees from falling off, onto or through roofs or other working surfaces. OSHA fall protection rules cover most construction workers, except those inspecting, investigating or assessing workplace conditions prior to the actual start of work.
Construction contractors must generally protect workers from fall hazards whenever a worker is six feet or more above a lower level. Contractors must assess a workplace to determine if the working surfaces have the strength and structural stability to safely support workers. For example, if a worker is exposed to falling six feet from an unprotected side, a guardrail system, safety net system or personal fall arrest system must be in place to protect the worker.
Designers of products must conduct a hazard analysis as part of the design of a product to determine if workers will be required to climb on to the product. For example, a crane manufacturer should anticipate that workers will be required to work at elevations in the course of maintaining a crane. Similarly, manufacturers of power presses must anticipate that maintenance will require climbing a press during the life of a press. A press design must provide necessary guards to ensure safety throughout the life cycle of a product. This means that a manufacturer must not only consider how the product will be installed, but also how it will be used, including reasonably foreseeable misuse. A product designer must also design a product to provide protection in the maintenance and dismantling phases of the product.
Unfortunately, manufacturers frequently have designed cranes and other equipment without necessary safeguards to prevent falls. This results in unnecessary injuries and deaths. Failure to provide a safe product may expose the manufacturer to liability for injuries in a products liability case.
The workplace injury attorneys at Galfand Berger in Philadelphia have represented countless injured workers in Workers’ Compensation claims, as well as Third-Party actions such as products liability lawsuits. If contractors and manufacturers fail to take the necessary steps to ensure safety in the workplace, they are responsible for the injuries from those hazards. Our attorneys are skilled litigators with extensive success in seeking justice and obtaining large recoveries for our clients. Call us today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online.