Falls are the most commonly cited violation at Minnesota construction sites and are a serious threat to workers.
A workplace injury can occur on almost any job, but for people working construction jobs the risk of a serious injury is especially high. As CBS Minnesota points out, construction accidents are the leading cause of workplace injuries in Minnesota. Among the construction accidents that occur, falls are the most common cause, both in Minnesota and across the nation. When workers are not informed about the dangers of falls and when employers fail to provide a work environment that minimizes the risk of falls then the likelihood of a serious accident occurring is significant.
Falls in Minnesota
In Minnesota, while workplace fatalities are higher in the farming, fishing, and forestry sectors, it is in construction that overall injuries are highest. The risks faced by construction workers are hardly unique to Minnesota. Nationwide construction accidents accounted for 20 percent of all workplace fatalities in 2013.
Falls are by far the leading cause of death and injury in construction accidents. Across the United States, falls account for 37 percent of construction fatalities, well ahead of the next leading cause of construction fatalities, being struck by an object, at 10 percent. In Minnesota there have been 27 construction deaths caused by falls in the last four years. Fall protection violations were also the most common citation received by employers in Minnesota between October 2013 and November 2014.
Creating a safe workplace
As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) points out, employers have a responsibility to protect workers from the risk of falls. In the construction industry specifically, workers must be provided with fall protection if they are working at elevations above six feet or whenever they are working above dangerous equipment and machinery, even if the elevation in such cases is less than six feet.
Guardrails and toe-boards must also be put in place around open platforms. In some cases, workers must also be provided with safety harnesses, safety nets, and other fall protection equipment. In addition to providing such safety equipment, employers must strive to keep job sites as dry and free of dirt and debris as possible in order to decrease the risk of tripping and falling. Workers must also be trained - in a language they can understand - about the risks of falls and other construction site dangers.
A construction accident, such as a fall, can cause a variety of serious and even life-threatening injuries, including broken bones, tissue damage, and brain injuries. Anybody who has been hurt in an on-the-job accident should contact a workers' compensation attorney immediately. An attorney can help injured workers understand how to file a claim and how best to fight for compensation.