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NIOSH fact sheet can help employers prevent falls

Falls are the No. 1 cause of fatalities among construction workers throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every year, an average of 310 construction workers die in falls. Another 10,350 fall victim to fall-related injuries. The majority of falls from scaffolding, roofs and ladders occur in the construction industry.

In the effort to help employers and employees prevent falls, NIOSH has released a fact sheet with several important tips. The most basic are for employers to provide the right training and regular maintenance.

Workers on ladders should be trained to use the ladder on flat ground and never overload the ladder. When climbing up and down, it's best to always face the ladder.

For roof work, employers should have a fall protection program in place and have workers wear protective equipment. The correct anchorage must be used for fall arrest systems. Employers are also advised to monitor the weather and to establish a buddy system.

Regarding scaffolds, employers should assign and train a competent person to supervise the construction. This supervisor, or another person, should inspect the scaffolding each time before it is used. Scaffolds must meet both manufacturer guidelines and OSHA standards.

Employers cannot prevent all accidents. Still, injured employees can take advantage of the workers' compensation program so they can be covered for their medical expenses and any short- or long-term disability leave. If they are already receiving workers' comp, a victim may be able to settle for a lump sum via a compromise and release agreement. Whatever the situation, a worker may want a lawyer to offer guidance. Employers have the ability to deny payment, but a lawyer may assist with an appeal.

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