What Industries Present the Greatest Fall Hazards?  

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Fall-related accidents are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries in the United States. In fact, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), falls are the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death. Although falls from elevated surfaces, such as rooftops, scaffolding, and ladders, often cause serious injuries, a worker does not necessarily need to fall far to suffer severe, potentially life-threatening injuries. Falls can happen anytime, and in almost any workplace. However, there are certain industries that are known for having more hazardous work environments, including a higher risk for falls. If someone is seriously injured in a fall accident at work, they may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. An experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer can assist workers with the claims process and ensure that they receive the maximum financial benefits they deserve.

Top Industries Prone to Fall-Related Accidents

Although falls are common accidents across all industries, NSC data shows that certain industries are at a much greater risk for fall-related injuries and fatalities, including the following:

  • Construction: 24,700 injuries, 384 fatalities
  • Manufacturing: 22,040 injuries, 49 fatalities
  • Wholesale trade: 10,250 injuries, 21 fatalities
  • Retail trade: 29,830 injuries, 29 fatalities
  • Transportation and warehousing: 23,490 injuries, 46 fatalities
  • Professional and business services: 22,090 injuries, 46 fatalities
  • Education and health services: 43,660 injuries, 18 fatalities
  • Government: 63,350 injuries, 44 fatalities

Why are Certain Workers at a Greater Risk for Fall Accidents?

According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Studies (BLS), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the following industries suffer the most falls from levels greater than or equal to four feet:

  • Construction: When it comes to fall accidents, the construction industry leads the way. BLS figures from 2010 show that there were 260 fall-related fatalities, including falls from ladders, roofs, and scaffolds. Younger workers accounted for most of these fatalities. The high number of falls at construction sites is due to the nature of the environment and the fact that the typical construction site has many hazards. Seventy percent of construction falls are from heights, whereas 30 percent are caused by slips or trips on the same level. Most of these falls occurred from missing guardrails, unguarded openings in the floor, or falls from ladders. OSHA regulations for fall protection in residential home construction were developed to reduce fall accidents and the resulting injuries and fatalities.
  • Transportation: This industry ranks second in fatal and non-fatal work falls with 92 fatal falls in 2010. Workplace improvements that can help reduce the number of fall-related deaths in the transportation industry include improvements in overhead fall restraint and prevention, including portable fall-protection systems.
  • Manufacturing: With 43 fall-related deaths in 2010, manufacturing ranks third in the top five industries with the most workplace fall accidents. Most of these falls are caused by slips or trips on the same level; however, falls from ladders and other elevated surfaces occur as well. This does not include fatal falls that occur in warehousing, wholesale, or retail distribution and trade.
  • Mining: There were 41 fall-related deaths in the mining industry in 2010. This industry consistently ranks in the top five with the highest rates of fall-related injuries and fatalities.
  • Agriculture: With 31 fatalities, the agriculture industry was ranked fifth for fall-related deaths. Farmers can suffer serious injuries if they fall from ladders, combines, or tractors. Extreme heat can also increase the risk of fall injuries for farmers. They can reduce this risk by using safety harnesses, installing the appropriate barriers and guardrails, and implementing a fall detection system.
  • Utilities and public works employees: These workers are often exposed to hazardous conditions, particularly when they are repairing electrical wires that require them to climb ladders or use other equipment to reach an elevated surface. Falling from dangerous heights can result in severe injuries.

Same-level falls, including those that are caused by slippery surfaces, unexpected stair heights or levels, and debris or objects that are blocking someone’s path,  can cause a range of injuries, including cuts, bruises, broken bones, neck and back injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. In extreme cases, they can cause fatalities. These types of falls can occur in any industry and are generally caused by the following:

  • Icy, wet, or oily surfaces
  • Uneven terrain
  • Changes in elevation
  • Cracks or chips in walking surfaces
  • Cords on the floor
  • Uneven rugs
  • Improper footwear

To avoid same-level falls, workers and employers should take the following steps to improve the safety of the work environment:

  • Keep all floors and surfaces clean and clear of clutter.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Make sure that all filing cabinets and desk drawers are closed.
  • Maintain good lighting, both indoors and outside the building.
  • Arrange furniture in a way that provides open pathways.
  • Install safe handrails on all stairways.
  • Keep all electrical cords organized and out of traffic areas.
  • Never stand on chairs, tables, or anything with wheels.
  • Always wear the appropriate footwear for the job.

What Can Employers and Workers Do to Prevent Falls?

Most if not all workplace fall accidents are preventable if employers and workers always take the appropriate precautions and make safety a top priority. Whether climbing a ladder, repairing a roof, or working on scaffolding, it is crucial that workers plan ahead, use all equipment safely and appropriately, and avoid unnecessary risks. Keeping the following safety tips in mind can help prevent fall-related accidents in the workplace:

  • Talk to coworkers about the task at hand and determine what safety equipment should be used.
  • Make sure that all workers are properly trained on how to operate the equipment.
  • Before starting a project, identify any hazards that are present in the work area.
  • Before starting a project outside, check the weather report. Avoid working outside during inclement weather.
  • Always use the correct tool for the job and use it only in the way it is intended to be used.
  • When using a ladder, always keep two hands and one foot on the ladder.
  • Never use a ladder on an unstable surface or lean it against an unsecure object.
  • If using a stepladder, make sure that it has a locking device that will hold the front and back open.
  • When using an extension ladder, make sure that it is one foot away from the surface it is leaning on for every four feet of height. Extend the ladder at least three feet over the top edge.
  • Make sure that all ladders are securely fastened to an upper support.
  • Never stand higher than the third rung from the top, and always wear slip-resistant shoes when climbing a ladder.
  • Do not reach for something when using a ladder.
  • Avoid using equipment that is old or damaged.

How Can Fall Detection Technology Prevent Fall Injuries?

If a worker is injured in a fall accident, whether it is from an elevated surface or from a same-level fall, it is crucial that the worker receives immediate medical attention. However, if an employee works alone, or the other workers are not in the vicinity of where the injured worker fell, the injuries could become more serious if they are not treated. Fall detection technology can prevent this from happening by using radio wave technology sensors to monitor the movements of the user. Fall detection devices can identify specific movements associated with a fall and send out an alert to the user’s account. For example, if a lone worker falls and does not get up right away, the device can evaluate the body’s position, physical activity, and whether the worker’s body movements were smooth or abrupt. The device can then determine whether the variables suggest that a fall has occurred, and it will activate the alert and call the emergency response team.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Maximum Compensation for Victims of Fall Injuries

If you or someone you know suffered a serious workplace injury after a fall accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and secure the maximum financial benefits you deserve for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and any other costs associated with your injury. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.