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Looking out for your own safety is a crucial part of your job

AdobeStock_176105748 (1).jpgIf you are a construction worker in Minnesota, you would likely want to take precautions that will improve your chances of returning home safely after every shift. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an extensive list of safety regulations specifically for the construction industry. However, serious workplace injuries continue to occur.

Safety authorities require employers to protect the safety and health of employees, but that responsibility often clashes with financial priorities of construction company owners. If you look at the most frequently cited safety violations as reported by OSHA, you might look at ways in which you can mitigate hazards to prevent injuries.

Safe ladder use

There will likely not be a day that goes by without you having to climb up a ladder. Regardless of whether the ladder is custom-made, self-supporting, fixed or portable, following these rules might prevent falls:

  • Use the safe three-point-contact method when you ascend or descend a ladder. Both feet and one hand, or both hands and one foot must be on the ladder at all times.
  • Ensure that a portable ladder's angle is stable and that it is long enough to extend at least three feet above the work level.
  • Never use one hand to carry tools or materials as you climb up a ladder. Use a rope or a pulley to pull up any tools that do not fit in your tool belt -- and do that once the climb is complete.
  • Make sure the ladder can carry your weight along with the tools you have in your tool belt.

Remember you can refuse to use a defective ladder or one that does not conform to OSHA standards.

Scaffold safety

As a part of your job, you will likely spend a lot of time on or around scaffolds. You can take the following precautions to protect yourself against falls, falling objects, electrocution and more:

  • Make sure the work surface is free of mud, water and ice and not close to power lines.
  • Whether you work on or below a scaffold, always wear a hard hat and non-skid boots.
  • Secure tools to the frame of the structure to prevent them from falling onto workers below.
  • Hoist equipment and tools onto the scaffold after climbing, and do not exceed the load limit.

Do not work on scaffolds that do not have toeboards, midrails and guardrails.

Fall protection

According to OSHA, fall protection violations lead to most of the reported fatalities in the construction industry. Take note of the following precautions to prevent you from falling off scaffolds or roofs or into elevator shafts, through skylights and other openings:

  • Never disregard the need for fall protection, and do not access elevated work levels without the necessary personal protective equipment.
  • Inspect the equipment before every shift to identify damage or defects.
  • Make sure you understand how a fall harness works and how to anchor your lanyard securely.
  • Check the length of the lanyard to ensure it will arrest your fall before you hit a lower level.

Wearing a fall harness will be of no use if you do not learn how to use it correctly.

Workers' compensation

There is only so much you can do to protect yourself, and in the unfortunate event of a construction site accident, you can at least find comfort in the fact that the Minnesota workers' compensation insurance program will have your back. Furthermore, legal counsel can provide support and guidance throughout the claims process in pursuit of maximum benefits.

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The Minnesota Department of Labor and the Office of Administrative Hearings have temporarily halted all in person conferences. In addition scheduled hearings may also be delayed. Atkinson Gerber Law will continue to remain open with a small staff to continue assisting existing clients and answer the questions of new potential clients. The remainder of our staff will continue to assist you working remotely. We understand that this emergency magnifies the already pressing situation injured workers face with wage loss and lack of medical care. There may be some delays in responding to calls but we are making every effort to assist you. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

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