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Fall hazards in the workplace

Many Illinois construction workers are at risk for falls while on the job, especially when they are framing or erecting walls on buildings that have multiple stories. Workers can potentially fall through open spaces, such as windows or doors, or fall through floor openings. However, there are certain ways that employers can reduce the risk of fall hazards and potential injuries.

The main way that employers can reduce fall hazards and injuries is to provide both proper training to their employees as well as fall protection systems. For example, this may include training employees how to properly use the equipment that may assist with lifting the walls into place. Proper safety equipment that may be utilized to reduce fall risks include guardrail systems and a Personal Fall Arrest System.

A personal fall arrest system is a safety harness designed to stop a worker from hitting the ground should they fall. These systems involve an anchorage, a full body harness and a lifeline that connects the harness to the anchorage. OSHA requires that the anchors must in general be able to hold at least 5,000 pounds per worker and that the safety line always be supervised by someone who is qualified.

There are instances when these pieces of safety equipment may not be utilized. In these cases, employers must provide a written fall protection plan that is specific to the work site. If employers do not provide fall protection plans and construction worker accidents occur, those who were injured may be eligible to seek workers' compensation benefits. An attorney may assist with determining the total cost of damages that were sustained as a result of the accident and provide representation to the injured client throughout the process.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Reducing Falls during Residential Construction: Erecting Exterior and Interior Walls", accessed on March 15, 2015

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