Falls on construction sites are alarmingly common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Falls are the number one cause of construction-worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of all on-the-job deaths in the industry. . . . [C]onstruction has the most fatal falls out of all industries and represents 51% of all falls nationally.”
If you were seriously injured or a loved one was killed in a fall at a construction site in Oregon or Washington, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Workers’ compensation covers many construction workers and families, and many will be able to recover their losses outside of workers’ compensation as well.
What Should Construction Companies and Property Owners Do to Prevent Falls?
Due to the high risk of worker injuries and deaths, construction companies, property owners, contractors, and subcontractors must take various measures to prevent job site falls. As summarized by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of these measures include:
- Guarding floor holes with railings and a toe board or a floor hole cover;
- Installing guardrails and toe boards around open and elevated platforms, floors, and walkways;
- Installing guardrails and toe boards around vats, conveyor belts, and other types of dangerous equipment and machinery into which workers could fall;
- Providing construction workers with harnesses and safety lines, and installing stair railings and handrails as necessary to prevent falls;
- Remedying any known fall risks and keeping floors in work areas as clean and dry as possible; and,
- Providing adequate training so as to inform workers about the risks they face in a language they can understand.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are numerous other steps that construction companies and other entities can – and should – take to minimize the risks that construction workers face on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, as the statistics show, companies ignore these safety risks all too often, and the consequences are often devastating for construction workers and their families.
What are the Most-Common Causes of Serious and Fatal Falls on Construction Sites?
Failure to take adequate safety precautions can expose construction workers to several different types of fall-related risks. According to the CDC and OSHA, some of the most common causes of serious and fatal falls on construction sites include:
- Unsafe ladders and scaffolding – Ladders that have not been positioned safely, the scaffolding that has not been properly assembled or secured, ladders and scaffolding that are in disrepair, and various other issues can lead to serious and fatal construction site falls.
- Slippery, cluttered, and dust–covered or debris-covered walking surfaces – Walking surfaces that are wet from rain or spills, walking surfaces that are cluttered with obstructions, dust-covered and debris-covered floors, and other similar types of issues can lead to ground-level falls as well as falls from heights.
- Unstable and insecure walking surfaces – Temporary floors, plywood that has not been secured, and other unstable and insecure walking surfaces are to blame for numerous construction site falls every year.
- Unprotected openings in floors and walls – As discussed above, construction companies and other entities must take various safety precautions to prevent falls through unprotected openings in floors and walls. However, they often fail to do so.
- Failure to provide adequate fall protection (or to provide adequate training on the proper use of fall protection) – Failure to provide adequate fall protection is a common cause of construction site falls as well, as is the failure to provide adequate training on the proper use of safety equipment that is provided.
What Should You Do After a Fall on a Construction Site in Oregon or Washington?
If you have been seriously injured in a fall on a construction site in Oregon or Washington, what should you do? What if you have tragically lost your spouse, child, parent, or another close family member in a fatal construction site fall?
First, if you have been injured, you should seek medical attention promptly. Importantly, if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you may need to see a doctor who has been selected or pre-approved by your employer. In Oregon, some employers require their employees to choose a provider within their managed care organization (MCO). In Washington, employees are required to see an approved physician for their first visit in order to preserve their workers’ compensation eligibility. However, if you needed emergency medical treatment and you went to the ER, you should still be covered.
If you have a personal injury claim (i.e., if you are not covered by workers’ compensation, or if you are covered and a company other than your employer is liable for your injuries), then you can – and should – see a doctor of your choosing. If you have seen a doctor already, be sure to follow your doctor’s advice. If you are not sure where to go for treatment, we can provide you with a referral.
Second, as soon as possible, you should discuss your case with an attorney. Whether you have a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury claim, or both, there are several important steps that must be taken in order to protect your legal rights. At D’Amore Law Group, we represent construction workers and families in both types of cases, and we can take immediate action, if necessary, in order to preserve your claim(s).
Third, you should focus on your wellbeing. Suffering a serious injury or losing a loved one unexpectedly is a traumatic event, and the recovery process will take time. If you are not careful, you could make mistakes that could jeopardize your physical or mental health and your claim for financial compensation. At D’Amore Law Group, we handle all aspects of our clients’ workers’ compensation and personal injury cases for them, and we rely on decades of relevant experience to recover the financial compensation our clients deserve.
Request a Free Initial Consultation in Oregon or Washington
To speak with an attorney about your legal rights after a serious or fatal construction site accident, call us directly or contact us online. We serve clients throughout Oregon and Washington, we provide free consultations, and we do not charge any fees or costs unless we win just compensation.