Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips and falls are usually caused by insufficient friction between a walking surface and the worker's footwear. Trips are often caused by walking surface hazards throughout the construction site. The majority of slip, trip, and fall accidents could be prevented by more thorough applications of safety standards. Specific examples of dangerous conditions include:
- Spills on walking surfaces
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Slick surfaces from rain, ice, and snow
- Insufficient lighting
- Obstructed views
- Loose cords, wires, and other tripping obstructions
- Bunched up and wrinkled carpets
- Lack of slip-resistant footwear
Any of the above examples create a dangerous environment for workers. When a construction worker suffers an injury as a result of such conditions, he or she may be forced to miss extended periods of work and undergo a long recovery process. In severe cases, workers may be permanently disabled and unable to engage in physical labor ever again.
Responsible construction site managers employ a variety of measures to reduce the risk of slip, trip, and fall accidents on site. Employers who neglect to adhere to these preventative measures endanger all parties who work on the site.
It's important to regularly evaluate construction sites for possible hazards. Many of these accidents are caused by simple carelessness. Management should practice a regular maintenance routine in which employees properly clean walking surfaces and remove any possible dangerous conditions prior to beginning construction for the day.
Employees need to be provided with the proper safety equipment. Slip-resistant shoes can help negate certain dangerous conditions which are more difficult to address on a daily basis. For example, let's look at projects which are underway during periods of inclement weather. It may be difficult to address slick walking conditions during the middle of a storm, but slip-resistant footwear can help minimize the risk of injury.
Fall Prevention Programs
Education is often the best preventative measure for workplace injuries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has found that workplaces that have implemented fall prevention programs have shown a decline in slip, trip, and fall accidents and injuries.
Who is Liable?
Pennsylvania's Workers' Compensation Act makes it difficult to hold employers liable for damages, except in extreme cases of negligence. However, most construction sites are composed of several
third parties which are unaffiliated with the main construction company. When one of these parties behaved in a negligent way which caused your fall, you have the right to seek the compensation you need during your recovery. Examples of these parties include:
- Independent contractors
- Equipment manufacturers
- Property owners
Your employer's workers' comp insurance will cover any medical expenses or lost wages which resulted from your accident. However, these claims will often be insufficient. Your employer's insurance company and legal representation will attempt to limit payouts as much as possible. This is why it's necessary to hold negligent third parties liable for damages.
Construction injuries can have devastating consequences. Victims are forced to suffer through long physical recoveries, and many end up permanently disabled. Those who do eventually recover are out of work for extended periods, while the less fortunate ones may be forced to retire from the construction industry altogether.
These consequences extend beyond the victim's career. Victims may never be able to engage in recreational activities they previously enjoyed outside of work. Families are affected too. Workers' compensation payments may be insufficient in providing the financial support a family once relied on. And spouses and children also suffer when a construction worker can no longer enjoy certain recreational activities outside of work.