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Government supports workplace fall protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor organized an event entitled the National Fall Safety Stand-Down during the June 2 workweek to draw attention to the importance of fall safety in workplaces, particularly in the construction industry. More than 25,000 businesses and 1 million workers, some of them in Illinois, were to take some time off from the workday to discuss the importance of taking steps to prevent falls.

In 2012, nearly 300 construction workers died because of falls and thousands more were injured. This makes falls the leading cause of death in the industry. The head of OSHA emphasized that the people who suffer these workplace injuries the most are temporary workers or those who are new to the job or young. He emphasized that the discussions were to be regarding what he called common-sense steps, such as the use of proper training in addition to safety harnesses and lines, guardrails and appropriate equipment.

The event was arranged in part because of an increase in residential construction projects caused by the improving economy. Federal officials wish to draw attention to the fact that injuries from falls are not limited to occurring only in the construction industry. In fact, the U.S. Air Force participated in the event at all bases worldwide. A NASCAR driver also participated in a safety demonstration in Florida.

When someone is injured by falling at work, he or she can file for workers' compensation benefits that include all reasonable medical expenses and potentially a portion of any lost income. A workers' compensation claim does prevent an injured worker from seeking additional compensation from the employer unless there was criminal negligence. However, if the accident was caused by third-party negligence, the worker may file a lawsuit against that party in addition to the claim.

Source: Quincy Herald-Whig, "Obama administration emphasizes fall protection", Tom Raum, June 02, 2014

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