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Fall prevention at construction sites

As some California workers know, falls may occur when walls are erected during building construction. Workers need to be aware of why falls happen and precautions that can be used to prevent them. After fall protection is in place, workers require training to use such protection properly.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers guidelines to help employers keep workers safe. Federal regulations mandate that standard fall protection methods must be used in the workplace. An employer may not be able to provide such protection and must provide reasons why conventional methods will not work. The employer must say in writing why standard fall protection, if used, would cause a hardship or if fall protection presented a bigger threat to worker safety. In such cases, the employer must develop a written plan that meets the specific needs of the work site. Workers are then trained in the use of such safety precautions.

When workers are performing tasks at a height of six feet or more above the ground, employers are required to provide fall protection, such as guardrails, to prevent construction site accidents. The protective rail should be 42 inches high with an additional three inches from the base of the work floor. Another type of fall protection, the personal fall arrest system, is widely used and is composed of a lanyard, a harness and an anchor spot where the lanyard is attached to prevent the worker from a fall. According to OSHA, the anchors must support 2.5 tons for each worker and used under a qualified individual's supervision.

When a worker is injured on the job by a fall, he or she may be eligible to apply for workers' compensation. The worker may benefit from speaking to an attorney who might provide insight into eligibility requirements. If the worker is eligible, the attorney can provide assistance throughout the process.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Reducing Falls during Residential Construction: Erecting Exterior and Interior Walls", accessed on March 15, 2015

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