Workplace Injuries: Falling from a Height at Work

Workplace falls from a height make up a large percentage of workplace injuries. In 2014, 40% - 359 out of 899 construction deaths in the U.S. were from falls (Occupational Safety and Health Administration - OSHA). On average, employees who are injured in a workplace fall accident miss 20 days of work and can incur significant emergency and ongoing medical expenses, extensive rehabilitation, physical therapy and lost wages.

In addition to workplace fatalities, serious injuries can result from falling from a height, including debilitating spinal cord and brain injuries. Tragically, many of these accidents and deaths are preventable with the right planning, equipment and training.

Workplace falls from a height can occur from any raised platform, including but not limited to scaffolding, roofs, trees, cherry pickers, ladders and chairs. Open holes or shafts are fall dangers along with unprotected flooring edges.

Often these dangerous falls are caused by: 

  • Unsuitable or unsafe equipment
  • Lack of training
  • Lack of safety precautions
  • Inadequate risk assessments about working areas

Many Dangerous Workplace Falls Can Be Prevented

The risk of workplace falls can be reduced with prioritization of worker safety and some common sense. OSHA recommends a 3-pronged action plan for employers:

  • Plan ahead. Assess each job that must be done from a height and decide how to approach the job, step-by-step tasks and what safety equipment is needed. Build planning time and the cost of safety equipment into the construction plan.
  • Provide the correct equipment. Any task that puts a worker 6 feet or more above flooring increases the risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fall. Employers must provide fall protection such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, including body harnesses, webbing and horizontal or vertical lifelines. The right equipment for the job must also be provided like the proper ladders, safety gear and scaffolds. All fall protection equipment must be inspected regularly.
  • Train all involved. Workers and supervisors must understand the proper set-up and safe use of any equipment needed for each task. Employers are responsible for training workers in the safe use of scaffolds, ladders and fall protection systems as well as in hazard recognition.

Workers: When asked to tackle a job that involves working from a height, make sure you have the right equipment, knowledge and training to do the job safely before beginning.

More Resources

OSHA educational materials on training workers who must work from a height

OSHA Ladder Safety Guidance

OSHA booklet on Protecting Roofing Workers

We Have Extensive Experience with Workplace Injuries

If you or a family member has been injured in the workplace or has experienced another personal injury, you may be able to get compensation for your injuries. Please call us for a free consultation. Attorney Tony Francis, personal injury attorney at The Francis Law Group in Orlando, will fight to get you the compensation that you and your family deserve. You can reach us at 407-363-9939 or contact us via the website.