According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 887 workers died in falls in 2017. That was the highest number of fatal workplace falls in about three decades. Falls also made up 17% of all job-related fatalities that year and almost 40% of all construction fatalities.
So why are fatal falls happening more often at work?
Reasons for the rise in fatalities
Fall-related deaths at work have been on the rise in recent years, partly because of the construction boom after the recession. This created a labor shortage, and many workers who were previously unfamiliar with construction safety protocol entered the workforce. While many large companies have responded by conducting safety programs to thoroughly train workers on detecting and addressing fall hazards, this priority of raising awareness and providing safety tips has not seeped down to many smaller businesses.
Unfortunately, the 2,100 inspectors employed by OSHA to enforce safety regulations are not enough to improve safety among the nation’s more than 8 million job sites. Even when inspectors discover safety violations, the attempts to correct employers’ behavior are often lacking or simply non-existent.
The risk is often higher with smaller construction companies
Construction companies with 10 or fewer employees claimed less than one-third of all construction workers from 2011 to 2015. Yet according to the Center for Construction Research and Training, 60% of construction-related fall fatalities involve employees in these smaller companies.
Smaller companies are also more likely to be remiss and tardy in turning in fall/injury claims to their workers’ compensation insurance carriers — for fear that the employer’s insurance premiums will go up significantly. No small business wants that. So if you are injured in a fall on the job, and you already have some concerns about the character and quality of your employer, do not delay in reaching out to an experienced workers’ compensation law firm.
Workers’ compensation benefits for fall victims and their families
A fall at work may have left you with a serious injury that affects every aspect of your life and that of your family. Before trying to handle your workers’ compensation claim on your own, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Even if it is obvious that your injury is work-related and you need and deserve workers’ comp benefits, you may not receive all of your rightful benefits if 1) there are mistakes in your claim, 2) you don’t get the right medical care and documentation, and 3) your employer or your employer’s insurance company wrongly denies part or all of your claim.
A note on workers’ comp claims and drug tests
Sometimes employers request drug tests for employees after injuries on the job, including injuries resulting from falls. As we’ve discussed in a previous post, even if you test positive for illicit drugs in your system after suffering a fall injury at work, if you were not impaired at the time of the fall, you will still have a strong case even if your claim has been denied at the outset due to the positive drug test. And in that situation, it is most imperative to contact a strong plaintiffs/claimants workers’ comp attorney to pursue your case immediately.