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NIOSH fact sheet may help prevent falls in construction

Construction workers in Texas and elsewhere are often injured in falls from scaffolds, roofs and ladders. In fact, the majority of such falls (86%, 81% and 57% respectively) occur in the construction industry. Falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are the leading cause of death in the industry. They are behind an average of 310 deaths and 10,350 serious injuries every year.

NIOSH hopes to prevent falls in construction with its new fact sheet, which comes with several recommendations. Together with OSHA and the CPWR, the organization is also helped employers prepare for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, which took place May 6 to 10, with free online resources.

NIOSH advises employers to have a fall protection program in place, especially for roof workers. Roof workers should wear the right equipment and utilize the buddy system when possible. Their fall arrest systems should use the correct anchorage. Employers should monitor the weather for high winds and other hazards.

As for scaffolding, someone should supervise its construction and inspect it each time before it is used. Scaffolds should comply with OSHA standards and manufacturer guidelines. Workers who use ladders must place them on flat, stable ground and never overload them. They must maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times.

When construction workers' accidents take place, victims may be able to receive compensation for their medical bills and any short- or long-term disability leave. All they have to do is file for workers' compensation benefits. Though they do not have to prove that anyone was at fault, employers may deny payment, saying that the victims themselves are at fault. Filing the claim and mounting an appeal may go easier with legal guidance, so victims may want to set up a consultation with an attorney.

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