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  • Falling Objects in Construction

    Injuries from falling objects are common in many workplaces, especially those in which employees routinely lift, retrieve, or store materials high above the ground. Warehousing and construction are two industries where workers are particularly at risk of injury from falling objects.

    Often, workers perform their duties below where materials are being handled from above, raising the probability of them being injured by falling building materials, tools, cement and bricks, boxes, or other objects used during a typical workday.

    What Causes Objects to Fall at Work?

    When objects fall at work, there can be many reasons.

    Unsafe Working Conditions

    A workplace can be rendered unsafe when an employer takes shortcuts, tries to save money, does not follow consistent inspections and maintenance of equipment, or does not oversee the property owner’s or manager’s work. Sometimes, they will disregard safety guidelines or not provide safety equipment to save money.

    Careless Behavior

    Careless behavior can cause falling object injuries. A vendor, contractor, or another worker may not take safety precautions when handling objects from above. They may disregard workers below them to get a job done quickly and with the least effort. They may be tired or reckless and not care about others’ safety.

    Taking Shortcuts

    Workers will sometimes skirt procedures or processes to get a job done ahead of schedule or shorten their workday. For example, they may believe that they do not have to follow every exact step of a prescribed material-handling maneuver. Taking shortcuts is never a good idea in the workplace.

    Disregarding Guidelines

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines to lessen and prevent workplace hazards, including falling objects. Workers may try to get around these guidelines by changing standards or not requiring workers to follow the exact guidelines. The result is often a severe accident.

    Failing to Secure Objects

    Objects that are being moved or that remain stationary above workers need to be adequately secured at all times. Securing objects is also essential while moving them on a crane, forklift, hoist, or boom.

    Improper Stacking

    Materials or supplies must be stacked properly to ensure they do not move or fall below. This is especially critical on construction sites and warehouses.

    Accidentally Dropping Objects

    Sometimes, workers fail to hold onto a tool or equipment they are using. For example, a worker on scaffolding could drop tools, paint cans, or other materials where they could seriously injure someone. Gravitational forces are powerful.

    Lack of Training

    An employer may not fully train an employee on a specific piece of equipment or procedure. Sometimes, workers will use machinery or material-transport devices they do not know how to operate. Improper training and lack of skills can lead to serious injuries.

    Too-Heavy Loads

    Overly heavy loads can fall off a transport device or cause it to flip, roll, or tip backward. Too heavy of a load can also cause a rack, shelf, lift, scaffold, or other holding devices to collapse, hurting workers underneath.

    Not Using Safety Devices

    Many safety devices, such as screens, toeboards, nets, and guardrails, are used on job sites specifically to stop or catch falling objects or debris. In addition, cinches and other equipment can help keep tools and machinery tethered to a person or stationary object. Lastly, hardhats and other personal protective equipment are designed to keep workers safe from falling objects.

    Malfunctioning Equipment

    It is not unheard of that a piece of equipment is defective or fails while in use and causes objects to fall. Sometimes, a defective ladder or scaffolding can cause a person to fall. Faulty materials or parts and malfunctioning equipment that lead to a structural collapse or breakdown can also lead to severe injury or death.

    Lack of Warnings

    Construction sites, warehouses, manufacturing floors, and other work areas where objects could fall must be marked with warning signs, barricades, cordoned-off zones, and audible or visual warnings on equipment.

    How Do Objects Fall?

    The OSHA reports the following common reasons for objects falling:

    • Working underneath cranes, scaffoldings, and hoists.
    • Working with powder-actuated tools that use a small, controlled explosion to drive studs, nails, or other specialized fasteners into a solid base.
    • Performing overhead work or working with the hands above shoulder height, including driving fasteners, finishing drywall, and drilling.
    • Working with handheld tools, such as screwdrivers and hammers.
    • Working with power tools, like grinders, saws, and drills.
    • Working with industrial machines, like pavement saws or jackhammers.
    • Pushing or pulling objects that can become airborne.
    • Operating cranes, forklifts, hoists, and other machinery to raise materials or people.

    What Are Common Injuries From Falling Objects?

    The types of injuries commonly sustained in construction accidents involving falling objects include:

    • Lacerations.
    • Bruises.
    • Broken bones.
    • Neck and back injuries.
    • Concussions.
    • Traumatic brain injuries.
    • Spine cord injuries.
    • Paralysis.
    • Permanent disabilities.
    • Death.
    Galfand Berger Icon It is vital for anyone hurt by a falling object to be seen by a medical professional. Serious injuries do not always show up at first, so continued vigilance regarding your health is necessary. Never take even the slightest injury for granted. Err on the side of caution to protect your health and rights to compensation for your injuries.

    How Can a Lawyer Help Me if I am Injured on the Job?

    Although most job-related injuries are covered under Workers’ Compensation, hiring an experienced lawyer can help you focus on recovering while protecting your rights. A lawyer will:

    • Investigate every aspect of the accident. The lawyer will do this to ensure that a third party, such as a manufacturer, contractor, electrician, or property owner, is not also to blame for the falling object accident.
    • Analyze the employers’ operating procedures, adherence to federal guidelines, use of protective and safety equipment, inspection and maintenance records, and more to ensure the employer is not to blame for creating an unsafe workplace.
    • Assist with Workers’ Compensation claims; manage an appeal for denied claims.
    • Deal directly with your employer and the Workers’ Compensation insurance company, handle paperwork, and adhere to stringent deadlines.
    • Demand fair and just compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and more.
    • Arrange a medical evaluation if your employer or the insurance company orders you to return to work before you are fully healed.

    A lawyer can also file a lawsuit on your behalf if your accident was caused by a third party, such as a subcontractor, vendor, equipment or machinery operator, defective equipment manufacturer, or other third parties. You can pursue a third-party lawsuit even if you receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.

    Falling objects Gravitational Forces

    Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Can Help You if You Were Hurt by an Object at Work

    Being hurt on the job can dramatically affect a worker’s life, happiness, and ability to earn income. If you have been injured at work due to an object on a construction site, our Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can review your case. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.