In 2010, there were approximately 3.1 million workplace injuries and illnesses across the United States. The recent death of a worker in a fatal West Springfield, Massachusetts construction site accident has brought the importance of workplace safety close to home.
The 19-year-old worker was working on a house damaged by a tornado when he fell four stories from the roof to the basement. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Springfield, Massachusetts is investigating the death and has ruled it accidental. The office will not comment on what kinds of safety precautions were taken until the investigation is concluded.
Falls like this are the leading cause of accidental workplace deaths. OSHA standards require those working more than six feet off the ground wear harnesses anchored to an object that has the ability to endure 5,000 pounds of force. However, an OSHA safety trainer told a local newspaper that getting workers to use the safety equipment can be difficult, especially when workers are only going to be on the roofs for a few seconds. Often, they do not realize that serious accidents can happen in such a short amount of time.
It is extremely important that companies implement workplace safety programs to protect their workers. Employers can take advantage of OSHA-offered training classes to prevent injuries and deaths from falls and other hazards. The agency recommends that safety plans include such things as use of safety devices such as harnesses and helmets, using a buddy system, periodic checks on the success of the program and signage or warnings.
Most employees who suffer Massachusetts work injuries are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, when injuries or deaths are caused by improper working conditions, other relief may also be available.
A personal injury attorney is a valuable resource for helping injured workers and their families sort through options to help with the emotional and financial burdens of a workplace injury.
Source: The Republic, “Proper safety measures for construction workers could prevent work-place injuries or deaths says Western Massachusetts occupational safety official,” Sandra Constantine, Jan. 22, 2012.