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While the construction industry has the worst problem, workers in any industry or workplace can fall and that fall can often lead to serious injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 73 workers in Texas died from falls while they were working in 2014; it is the third most common cause of workplace fatalities in the state.
Nationally, falls make up a majority of workplace accidents and they are the second-leading cause of workplace fatalities, just behind motor vehicle accidents. They account for almost two-thirds all work days lost, which means 95 million work days are lost to injuries from falls. This, despite the fact that virtually all workplace falls are preventable by taking some very basic steps that cost little and keep everyone safer.
For example, it’s important to install and maintain sufficient lighting, which is one of the most common reasons for falls and other accidents, especially on walkways, stairs, ramps and dock areas. It’s important to train workers to always turn on the lights when they enter a work area, which means keeping light switches free and clear of obstruction.
In addition to keeping all paths, stairways and walkways in the workplace well lit, it’s also important to keep all such areas free of obstacles, debris, materials and equipment, to keep the potential for falls to a minimum. It’s also important to avoid stringing cords, cables and hoses across walkways and to keep boxes and other items stacked to the side.
It’s also necessary to keep walkway surfaces as dry as possible to minimize the possibility of falls. This is especially important in areas where pedestrians may track moisture through the workplace walkways. The same care should be taken with outdoor workplaces, especially where snow and ice are a factor.
Of course, all of the above can only be accomplished by establishing solid housekeeping practices in the workplace and training all workers to follow them. Good workplace housekeeping and safety go hand in hand. Workers should be trained to keep walkways clear at all times and to clean up after themselves and co-workers. If they see a wet spot on the floor, they should automatically clean it up. If there are boxes or tools in the way, they should put them away.
It is also important for employers to make sure that all workers are supplied with and use any and all personal protective equipment that is necessary to keep them safe while doing their job. For example, workers should wear proper footwear for whatever work they are doing, with soles and heels that resist slippage. And of course, all workers doing their job at heights should be equipped with fall protection to keep them safe. At the heart of it all is that employers encourage a mindset of “safety first” in the workplace and they should be encouraged to approach supervisors and tell them of the problem if they see something wrong.
If you or a loved one have been injured because of a fall at any Texas workplace, it’s very important to consult with an attorney experienced in workplace safety issues as soon as possible. In most situations, you will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but there is a possibility that you may be able to recover additional compensation in a third-party lawsuit under certain circumstances. Contact the workplace fall lawyers at Adame Garza LLP today for a free consultation to discuss your options.