May 11, 2021
Common Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls on Construction Sites
By Jonathan Damashek
Slips, trips, and falls are common on construction sites in New York City. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, slip, trip, and fall accidents are among the leading causes of construction workplace injuries.
Many of these accidents are preventable. Whether it is an unstable walkway, debris, or unsafe conditions, a construction injury lawyer can help you recover damages from an accident that was not your fault.
What Causes Most Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents?
OSHA requires that employers protect against hazards in the workplace. Despite this, slip, trip, and fall accidents happen, and people get injured.
Some common causes of slips, trips, and falls on construction sites include:
- Slick spots on walking surfaces
- Unsafe stairs or ladders
- Improperly structured scaffolding
- Sloped walking surfaces
- Loose, unanchored flooring
- Ramps without skid- or slip-resistance surfaces
- Mounting and dismounting vehicles and equipment
- Loose, irregular surfaces such as gravel
- Weather hazards
- Uncovered hoses, cables, or wires
- Poor lighting
Falling objects are another hazard that contributes to workplace accidents. Employers should ensure that construction sites and other workplaces are safe, with proper equipment provided to employees. Construction sites should be ADA compliant when required by law.
OSHA Standards Violations Lead to Slips, Trips, and Falls
When employers fail to comply with OSHA standards, they create a dangerous work environment for employees. In 2019, OSHA reported that three of the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards that were violated involved fall protection or scaffolding requirements.
In 2019, the most recent year reported, more than 5,300 workers died on the job. That is approximately 100 per week or 15 per day. About 20% – 1,061 – of worker fatalities are construction deaths. Many of those were due to slips, trips, and falls.
Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls Is Good Business
The best way to deal with these accidents is to prevent them. Employers can prevent slip and fall accidents by ensuring safety equipment is available on work sites. They can also provide appropriate training for employees.
The following are suggested measures that may prevent slip, trip, and fall accidents on New York City construction sites.
Best Practices Mean Safer Construction Sites
OSHA requires that walkways and driveways be kept clear of obstructions. They should also be in good repair and large enough to allow safe clearance. Building owners, contractors, and subcontractors are responsible for ensuring that workers follow best practices for a safer site, including:
- Remove clutter and debris
- Put away tools and equipment after use
- If you see something that is a potential danger, say something
Your employer should give workers enough time to clean and pick up the work area within working hours.
Keep Surfaces Clean and Dry
Outdoor surfaces should be kept clean and dry. They may be treated with sand, salt, and anti-skid adhesive when necessary. Indoor surfaces should be secured with non-slip floor mats that allow people to clean their shoes. Heavily treaded construction work boots and shoes can track in nails and other potential hazards.
Secure Gaps, Holes, and Openings
According to OSHA, a hole is “a gap or space more than two inches wide in any horizontal working surface.” An opening is “a gap or space at least 30 inches high and at least 18 inches wide in a vertical surface through which a person could fall.”
These spaces should be secured so that no one falls through them. That might require covers, railings, and toe boards.
Stairs and Ladders
Stairs and ladders are a common element in construction site injuries. To prevent dangerous situations, you should:
- Use a handrail
- Ensure proper lighting in the area
- Make sure you can see in front or below you
- Make proper repairs as necessary
- Clean up moisture and spills
- Inspect for defects, like loose rungs
- Remove damaged equipment
- Use equipment appropriately and as designed
- Use ladders on secure, stable surfaces
Injured on Site? Get Medical and Legal Help
Always get medical help if you are injured at work in a slip, trip, or fall accident or any kind of construction accident. After you talk to your healthcare provider, call Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek for a free consultation. You may be able to recover damages for injuries caused by another party’s negligence or wrongdoing.