What Causes Falls on Construction Sites?

Why Do Construction Workers Fall? | Patrick Daniel Law
Share this:

Falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites. A fall from any height can be serious, whether it is from a ladder positioned a few feet off the ground or from a scaffold or aerial lift extending multiple stories in the air.

You have rights if you suffer injury in a fall on the job. However, many construction workers are unaware of their full legal options.

It is important to speak to a construction accident lawyer as soon as possible after a fall. A knowledgeable attorney can review the details of your case and advise you of your options for recovering compensation after a workplace injury or the wrongful death of a loved one.

Patrick Daniel Law has extensive experience handling construction accident fall claims. Please contact our office in Houston today for a free case review.

The #1 Cause of Falls on the Job Site

1. Inadequate Fall Protection

Employers have an obligation to provide workers with the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs safely. When workers perform jobs at heights, this includes providing equipment that reduces the risk of a fall.

What constitutes adequate fall protection depends on the type of work and the equipment used. Common examples of fall protection on a construction site include:

  • Harnesses (also called personal fall arrest systems)
  • Guardrails (required on scaffolding, scissor lifts, and other enclosed work platforms)
  • Safety nets

These safety measures must meet regulations set by OSHA. For example, guardrails on enclosed platforms must be a minimum of 42 inches (three and a half feet) high and fully surround the surface where workers walk.

Unfortunately, the majority of falls on construction sites occur because workers do not have the protective equipment they need to prevent falls. Several common situations arise in accidents involving inadequate fall protection:

  • Workers are provided safety gear but it suffers wear and tear. Falls may occur as a result of:
    • Worn harness straps
    • Malfunctioning buckles on harnesses
    • Harnesses that don’t fit the worker’s size or weight
    • Loose or faulty hooks and rings on harnesses
  • Errors in construction make fall protection ineffective, leading to accidents such as:
    • Falls from scaffolding due to improperly installed guardrails
    • Scaffolding collapse
    • Improper rigging of safety nets
  • OSHA violations, such as:
    • Missing guardrails
    • Lack of personal fall arrest systems
    • Fall protection that fails to meet weight bearing requirements

Workers do not have to plummet from the side of a skyscraper to suffer a deadly fall. Falls from as little as six feet above the ground can be fatal.

Employers who fail to protect workers from falls may be liable for injuries and deaths that occur on a construction site. It is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights after the accident.

What Else Causes Falls on Construction Sites?

Although insufficient fall protection is a leading cause of serious and fatal falls on construction sites, it is not the only factor that can result in accidental falls. Other common issues in construction fall claims include:

2. Unfinished Roofs

According to OSHA, falls from roofs account for one-third of the falls resulting in the death of construction workers. Roofs that are under construction present a number of dangers to workers, including:

  • Unguarded edges of the roof
  • Falls through openings, such as unfinished portions of the roof, skylights, etc.
  • Falls along the leading edge of the roof (the part of the roof under construction)

Many of these falls occur due to a lack of protective gear, as well as errors on the part of foremen, supervisors, and contractors in directing work on the structure.

3. Aerial Lift Accidents

Most aerial lift accidents involve a combination of dangerous factors. First, aerial lifts are often set up on uneven ground. The unstable surface can make the lift tilt, sway, and tip, potentially throwing unsecured workers out of the bucket at the end of the boom.

Mechanical failures are another common issue in falls from aerial lifts. Aerial lifts are subject to a number of serious defects that can lead to falls and other accidents.

Furthermore, untrained workers are often tasked with operating aerial lifts. Mistakes at the controls can cause workers to fall from the bucket or platform.

4. Unsafe Ladders

Many construction accidents involve falls from scaffolding, aerial lifts, and other heights. However, ladders are no safer just because they are closer to the ground. Workers can suffer brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and other catastrophic trauma in falls from less than one story.

As with other types of equipment on a construction site, ladders need to be inspected frequently to ensure that they are in safe condition for use by workers. Ladders should also meet OSHA requirements and other safety standards. Whether due to defects or negligent inspection and supervision, falls may occur when the wrong ladder is used for the job, rungs break, and more.

5. Tripping and Slipping Hazards

Any surface on a construction site can quickly become crowded with tools, materials, workers, and more. The likelihood of a fall increases significantly when workers have limited room to move and hazards dot the walkway.

Slips and trips can end in tragedy when workers lose their footing at heights. A simple mistake (such as spilling paint or leaving a hammer where someone can step on it) may result in a fall from scaffolding, an aerial lift, or another elevated work surface.

Workers may also fall from heights due to poor construction of scaffolding and other platforms. Loose boards, nails and bolts that stick up, and other hazards can cause workers to trip. These issues, in combination with inadequate fall protection, can lead to devastating accidents on the job site.

Contact a Construction Accident Lawyer Today

Liability for falls and other accidents on construction sites is a complex issue. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits without having to prove fault, but many employers in Texas make the irresponsible (but legal) decision to forgo workers’ comp insurance.

Without workers’ compensation as an option, the only way to recover damages is to prove that one or more parties were at fault for the fall. Patrick Daniel Law can help.

Patrick Daniel is an experienced construction accident attorney who has achieved significant results on behalf of workers injured in falls. He is supported by a team who shares his vision of a world where safety comes first and those injured through no fault of their own are fairly compensated for all that they have lost.

If you or a loved one suffered a fall on the job, please call Patrick Daniel Law at (713) 999-6666 today for a free consultation. Our construction accident lawyer serves clients throughout Houston, all of Texas, and nationwide.

  • Personal Injury Lawyers
    FREE Case Evaluation
    Share your experience and we will get back to you A.S.A.P.
    Share your experience and we will get back to you A.S.A.P. or call (713) 999-6666.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Patrick Daniel's Awards and Recognition