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Permanent disability can be caused by lack of fall protection

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the most frequent causes of fatal injuries in the construction industry are falls to lower levels. Despite the fact that the federal safety agency has repeatedly stated that most of these deaths were preventable, many employers nationwide, including in Ohio, continue to expose workers to fall hazards that can have devastating consequences. Those who are fortunate enough to survive fall accidents may suffer permanent disability.

Safety officials say three basic steps can prevent these unnecessary deaths -- plan, provide and train. The establishment of safety plans and protocols during the planning stage of a project is vital. The planning must include the cost of safety equipment so that employers will not regard the safety requirements as additional expenses. Different assignments pose different hazards, and the planner of each project must consider every type of potential hazard. Roof workers, for example, are not only at risk of falling off the edge of the roof, but they must also contemplate hazards such as skylights or holes.

The "provide" part of the basics involves the preparation of safety equipment to suit each job and to fit each employee. Any workers who are on levels that are elevated six feet above lower levels must have appropriate fall protection. The company must provide equipment that is regularly inspected for wear and tear, malfunctions and other safety hazards. Each worker's harness must fit properly, and the anchor to which lanyards are hooked must be secure.

Then comes the training. Even with state-of-the-art safety equipment, a worker's life can be at risk if he or she did not receive proper training in the appropriate use of the provided protective gear. Employees must learn risk recognition and the suitable use of all safety equipment. Any victim of a construction accident that led to a permanent disability may seek assistance with settling high medical costs, lost income and possible vocational training to equip him or her with new skills. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help Ohio victims to navigate the complexities of claiming workers' compensation benefits to cover losses.

Source: osha.gov, "Welcome to OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign", Accessed on Jan. 8, 2017

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