Falls in the Workplace
Falls are a leading cause of workplace deaths, with a total of 14 percent of on-the-job fatalities attributed to falls, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A total of 666 workers died over the course of a year as a result of falling, 108 of whom lost their lives as the result of a slip, trip or stumble on the same level that they were standing on.
When a worker is killed or injured as a result of a fall, significant financial and emotional losses can result. An injured victim may have high medical bills and may experience pain and a diminished quality of life. If the fall causes death, family members may be left without financial support or love and companionship.
Under Georgia law, workers’ compensation benefits could cover some of the losses associated with workplace fall injuries, including payment of medical costs and partial lost wages, as well as payment of death benefits. It may also be possible for injured workers or their family members to file a third-party injury claim in certain situations when a non-employer was partially to blame for the fall.
An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer at Parsons & Associates, P.C., can assist those who suffer falls at work in understanding and enforcing their legal rights.
Fall Injury Risks in the Workplace
Falls can happen any time in the workplace and for many different reasons. In fact, the 2011 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index named falls on the same level as the second most common cause of disabling workplace injuries, and falls to a lower level as the third most common workplace accident leading to injury.
The National Floor Safety Institute also highlighted some of the serious dangers of fall injuries, indicating that:
- Falls are the leading cause of workplace injuries that result in work absences.
- In 22 percent of situations where someone suffers a fall injury, the injured victim needed to miss 31 days of work or more.
- Falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and are the top cause of occupational injuries for 15- to 24-year-old workers.
- Slipping on a slick floor is the cause of 85 percent of work-related fall injuries.
- Fall injuries cost an estimated $70 billion annually.
Who is Most at Risk for Workplace Falls?
Falls can happen in any profession and in any workplace. However, certain employees are at greater risk of fall injuries than others.
Employees most at risk include:
- Construction workers – The BLS reports that 35 percent of fatal construction accidents resulted from falls. OSHA data also highlight other dangers construction workers face. According to OSHA, falls are the cause of one-third of all deaths on construction sites and are the leading cause of death for construction workers.
- Maintenance workers — In 2011, 55,850 cleaners and janitors suffered serious injuries that caused missed work time, according to the BLS. A total of 29 percent of those injuries occurred as a direct result of falls on the worksite.
- Health care workers — The BLS indicated that 29 percent of the 47,840 injuries necessitating missed work time among health care workers occurred as a result of falls.
- Truck drivers – The BLS reported that 30 percent of the 44,120 serious injuries causing missed work time among truck drivers occurred due to falls at work. Many of these falls happened in the back of the truck or on the steps of the truck or trailer.
Of course, falls can happen to any worker and in any field. This is especially true because many employers do not do enough to prevent falls from occurring. In the 2011-2012 data, for example, OSHA indicated that a failure to follow fall protection rules was the No. 1 violation that led to employers receiving OSHA citations for unsafe workplaces.
Causes of Falls in the Workplace
There are many different causes of fall injuries both among workers in high-risk industries and among workers in seemingly “safe” lines of work.
Some of the most common reasons that falls occur include:
- Contaminants on the floor, including grease, food, water or oil.
- Irregularities in walking surfaces, including uneven or warped flooring or cracked sidewalks.
- Snow and ice, which can be either outdoors or tracked inside.
- Inadequate lighting.
- Dangerous staircases, including those with treads that are too narrow or loose.
- Dangerous handrails, including those that are broken or wobbly.
- Tripping hazards, such as debris in walkways.
- Floor mats, runners and rugs that are improperly placed, worn or curled.
- Dust and debris, including cement dust.
- Unsafe scaffolding.
- Faulty ladders.
- Improper training.
- Improperly marked hazards on construction sites.
Types of Fall Injuries
Some of the most common injuries that workers experience as a result of a fall include:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Spinal cord injuries, including those that cause paralysis.
- Back, neck and shoulder injuries.
- Broken bones.
- Facial injuries.
- Scarring and disfigurement.
No matter how high the medical bills, workers’ compensation could provide full coverage for medical care costs arising out of a qualifying workplace fall. Workers’ compensation benefits could also pay temporary or permanent disability benefits for full or partial disability when a fall injury makes a worker unable to work or reduces the worker’s earning potential.
Hurt in a Workplace Fall? Contact our Workers’ Comp Lawyers for Help
A fall at work can be devastating, and it is important to get medical help right away. It is also important to get immediate legal help to protect your potential right to workers’ compensation benefits.
At Parsons & Associates, P.C., our experienced Atlanta workplace accident lawyers can help you maximize the compensation available, both through a successful workers’ compensation claim and through exploring possibilities for third-party litigation when possible.
Contact us now at (770) 422-9000, or fill out our online contact form for a free and confidential claim review. We return calls within 24 hours from our offices in Atlanta and Savannah.