There is a famous photo called “Lunch atop a skyscraper,” taken in 1932. It shows 11 men perched on a girder, 840 feet above the ground. They are happily eating lunch, completely unsecured while building the Rockefeller Center in New York.
That photo would look very different today. The men would be wearing hard hats, hi-viz vests and harnesses. Working at height has always been necessary when working in construction. Staying safe while doing so is now considered essential.
A third of all workplace fatalities in 2018 were due to falls from height, according to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You do not need to be 840 feet up to die from a fall; less than 20% of fatal falls happen from above 30 feet, with 8% below 6 feet.
OSHA’s fall prevention campaign provides a three-point plan for working at height:
- Plan: Employers need to assess the job beforehand and consider how best to do it safely, and what equipment will be required.
- Provide: The job should not go ahead until the appropriate safety equipment is there, even if that means a delay.
- Train: Sports enthusiasts often talk about people who have, “All the gear but no idea.” If workers do not know how to use the safety equipment and implement the safety procedures, they will be in danger. Practical training is essential to avoid accidents.
If you have injured yourself in a workplace fall, you can claim through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. An experienced attorney can help you complete the application and receive the benefits to which you are entitled. If your accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. And in very rare circumstances, employers can be sued outside of worker’s compensation, for more complete recoveries. Those circumstance often involve violation of safety regulations, potentially including those related to working from heights.