slip and fall accident

Workplace accidents occur every day in various industries throughout the United States and here in South Carolina. Falls are one of the most common types of workplace accidents. Commonly Used Statistics provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveal that 39.9 percent of fatalities in the construction industry are a result of workplace injuries from falls. In fact, falls are the No. 1 cause of worker fatalities in the construction industry.

The following considers tips for fall protection on the jobsite, as well as what to do if you are hurt in a workplace fall.

Common Causes of Workplace Falls

An OSHA Fact Sheet states that there are four main causes of workplace falls: unstable working surfaces, ladders that are not safely positioned, lack of protection around floor openings, and misuse of fall protection.

While the four items above may be the most common causes of workplace falls, particularly for those in the construction industry, they are not the only causes. It is important to note that while construction workers are particularly prone to falls, workplace injuries from falls can affect a multitude of industries.

Other common causes of falls, which are almost always preventable, include:

  • Wet or slippery surfaces
  • Changes in walking surfaces or levels
  • Lack of proper lighting
  • Objects and debris in the way
  • Uneven floor surfaces
  • Poorly maintained walking areas
  • Spilled food
  • Defective floor coverings

Tips for Fall Protection On the Jobsite

OSHA provides numerous tips for preventing falls and protecting employees from workplace injuries from falls. According to OSHA’s Three Simple Steps to Preventing Falls, these include the following:

  • Plan: The first tip that OSHA provides for employers who want to reduce the risk of workplace falls is to plan ahead for a job done safely. Specifically, OSHA recommends that employers identify and include all necessary safety equipment and tools for worker safety, and consider all potential fall hazards in order to take preventative measures.
  • Provide: The second tip that OSHA gives is for employers to provide the right safety equipment for the job. This includes the right types of ladders, scaffolding, harnesses, and any other necessary safety gear. It is important that employers adhere to safety standards that are specific for the job to be performed. Different jobs require different safety equipment.
  • Train: Finally, OSHA recommends that employers properly train all employees on how to use safety equipment and other tools properly. Effective training may be the difference between a safe job site and a workplace accident.

Employers should also be sure to keep working conditions as safe as possible by keeping walking areas clean and clear, providing high-quality safety equipment for free to all employees, and guarding all holes in walking surfaces and providing guardrails when falls are a possibility.

In addition to employers planning, providing safety equipment, and training employees, there are tips for fall protection on the jobsite that workers can follow as well. These include always communicating with other employees and managers about a job before it is performed and during its execution, always staying sober and distraction-free while on the job, double-checking work surfaces and equipment before going to work, and asking questions about a lack of equipment or training, and expressing and reporting any safety concerns.

In other industries outside of construction, employers and employees can reduce the risk of workplace fall accidents by attending to spills quickly, ensuring that walking surfaces are well maintained, wearing appropriate shoes for the job, shoveling snow and removing ice from parking lots, and providing handrails.

Who is Liable for a Workplace Fall Injury?

Most workplace injuries from falls occur due to a safety standard violation. However, regardless of the cause of the fall, if you are injured at work, workers’ compensation insurance will likely pay for your injuries. Because of the no-fault nature of workers’ compensation insurance, you will not have to prove negligence in order to recover compensation, as long as you were performing a work-related task at the time the injury occurred, regardless of your industry.

In South Carolina, workers’ compensation insurance offers benefits for medical expenses and lost wages, as well as benefits for the surviving family members of workers who are killed in workplace falls. According to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, all employers with four or more workers, either full-time or part-time, are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance.

In addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim for benefits, you may also be eligible to file a third-party civil action as well. A third-party liability claim is a civil action against someone other than your employer whose negligence was the cause of your injuries. For example, the manufacturer of a defective piece of safety equipment that failed to operate as it should, contributing to your workplace fall, may be held liable for the harm that you have suffered and damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

How A South Carolina Workplace Accident Attorney Can Help You

An injury from a fall can be devastating, leading to an inability to return to work and therefore lost wages, permanent disability, and even death. When an injury results in losses, both economic and non-economic, you need to take action to file a workers’ compensation claim. At Joye Law Firm, our experienced South Carolina workplace accident attorneys can also help you explore the possibility of filing a third-party liability claim for damages. In some cases, you can file both a third-party claim and a workers’ compensation claim.

To learn more about Joye Law Firm and your rights after a workplace fall accident, contact our skilled team for your free case consultation today. We will do everything that we can to help you recover the compensation that you deserve. You can schedule your consultation by contacting us online or by calling our offices now.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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