Any number of jobs may require an employee to climb a ladder, but few require workers to do their jobs several stories above the ground. Construction workers, telephone engineers, and power company employees are regularly placed at height to complete work tasks, putting them at risk of one of the deadliest hazards in the workplace.
Major Causes of Construction Site Falls
Falls from heights are the biggest cause of fatal injury for workers in the United Kingdom. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) receives thousands of accident reports due to working at height every year, with nearly half of the injuries occurring in the construction industry.
Construction workers commonly suffer injuries due to:
- Falls from ladders
- Falls from scaffolding
- Falls on uneven surfaces (steps or flights of stairs)
- Falls through a roof into a structure
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 were specifically created to prevent injuries and deaths while working at height during construction and building. These regulations contain strict measures to prevent the root causes of falls, including:
- Improper planning. Construction site managers must carefully plan all work at height to ensure that employees and tasks are organised in a way that minimises risk.
- Inadequate training. Employers have a duty to ensure that all workers are properly trained and competent to perform any tasks that take them higher than ground level. If you were injured in a fall and did not receive suitable training for work at height, you may be entitled to a construction accident compensation claim.
- Inappropriate equipment. Construction workers should be furnished with the tools they need to perform their tasks safely, including ladders of a proper height to avoid reaching, scaffolding that will bear the weight of necessary workers, and safety lines that will mitigate fall injuries.
- Failure to manage risks of fragile surfaces. All workers should recognize the potential for injury while working on (or near) fragile surfaces, such as roofs, glass, and half-completed structures.
- Failure to maintain equipment. Employers have a responsibility to inspect equipment for hazards (such as missing or faulty guardrails) and replace any tools or safety devices that have outlived their usefulness.
Typical Injuries Sustained in a Fall From Height
While most construction site falls are easily preventable with a few safety precautions, the majority are caused by a simple act of negligence. Even a fall from a relatively low level can cause injuries that take months or years to heal, forcing an employee to change jobs or stop working altogether.
The most common fall injuries suffered by construction workers include:
- Head injuries. Falls from height are unfortunately likely to result in acquired brain injuries such as skull fractures, contusions, and brain hemorrhage.
- Bone fractures. Workers often break one or more bones as a result of a fall, especially in their hands, arms, or legs as they attempt to protect themselves from impact. Fractured ribs from a fall can cause organ damage and internal bleeding, which must be treated quickly to prevent fatal complications.
- Back injuries. Trauma to the spine may range from painful herniated discs to spinal cord injury that results in permanent paralysis. Even if victims are able to recover from a back injury, they may have physical limitations and lifting restrictions that put an end to their lucrative careers in construction work.
- Wrongful death. The sudden death of a loved one can place a significant burden on his or her family, so relatives should be adequately compensated for any work accident that results in death.
If you or a member of your family has suffered a fall from a height at work, you may be able to receive compensation for loss of earnings, costs of treatment, and out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of your injuries. Our construction accident lawyers have a no-win, no-fee pledge for all injury cases, paying court fees out of our own pockets until we secure a recovery for you. Call us today or fill out our enquiry form to set up your no-obligation chat with a member of our legal team.