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Falls and construction claims: how to prevent both

Nationwide Insurance has just reviewed the more than 10,000 construction industry workers' compensation claims that it processed in the past five years, and it found that nearly a third were due to falls from elevated surfaces. Construction employers in Pennsylvania will want to know how to prevent falls in their workplace.

The first important step would have been to participate in the Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, which took place from May 7 to 11. This nationwide event, which was sponsored by OSHA and supported by Nationwide and other organizations, gave employers the chance to focus on training employees and raising their awareness of safety issues.

For many companies, stand-downs provide a way to begin the conversation about work safety. Nationwide does encourage companies to continue and provide regular safety training. This is crucial to preventing falls because they so often result in multiple injuries, extended recovery times and short- or long-term disability leave for the victims.

Training can cover things like the proper use and inspection of mobile scaffolding and lifts. When possible, workers should use podium stepladders rather than the standard A-frame ladders. They should also be trained to use a rope and pulley or block and tackle to carry materials up instead of hauling them up themselves. Employers should also check for compliance with codes that require guardrails and other protective gear.

In the event of an injury, victims can file a workers' compensation claim, which if approved can result in the payment of medical expenses and, in some cases, a percentage of lost wages. They might want to have the assistance of an attorney when doing so.

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