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NIOSH releases fact sheet to boost fall protection

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has discovered something that should alarm construction workers in New Jersey, which is the fact that falls are the main cause of death in their industry. On average, 310 construction workers die every year in falls, and 10,350 are seriously injured. The majority of falls from scaffolds (86%), roofs (81%) and ladders (57%) are in construction.

To help employers and workers be safer on the job, NIOSH has released a fact sheet that provides several crucial recommendations. NIOSH, OSHA and the CPWR are also offering online resources to help prepare for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.

The fact sheet recommends training above all. Roof workers should wear the right fall protection equipment, and they should use the buddy system whenever possible. Fall arrest systems should use the correct anchorage. Employers must monitor the weather too.

Ladder safety is more basic. Workers must choose the right ladder for the job, never overload it and always maintain three points of contact with it. They should face forward when climbing it.

Scaffolds should be inspected each time before use. A competent person should be assigned to supervise the building of scaffolds. As with ladders, scaffolds should be set on flat, stable ground.

Even with a fall protection program in place, employers cannot prevent all incidents. Fortunately, employees have a right to workers' compensation benefits and can file for these as long as the employer has workers' comp insurance. Employers, on the other hand, have the right to deny payment if they can show that employees are to blame for their injuries. Therefore, the hiring of a lawyer might be wise. An attorney may also discuss the pros and cons of opting for a settlement.

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