Rosengren Law Office, LLC

Elevated work spaces pose safety hazards on construction sites

Employers in all industries in Minnesota are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Working at heights is not only dangerous on construction sites but also in sectors like oil and gas extraction, aviation, shipping operations and infrastructure workers in energy and telecommunication facilities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety guidelines, and compliance can prevent injuries.

The obvious danger in working at heights is falling, and for that reason, no worker should be at elevated levels without the necessary fall arrest system. Fall protection typically consists of strong and secure overhead anchorage, harness attachments and a horizontal lifeline system. Also, the worker should have a self-retracting lifeline, tie back applications, twin-leg lanyards and sufficient training in the use of the equipment and the importance of procedures to prevent fall suspension trauma.

A less-obvious hazard involves falling objects. Workers at heights might not realize that gravity causes falling objects to accelerate significantly, going faster the longer they drop. Even something as small as a bolt can be a deadly weapon if it is dropped from a great height. Objects known to be dropped on work sites include small parts, hand tools, structural components, instrumentation and other objects. Regulations require workers to be issued with tool belts or other devices to keep objects from dropping onto workers at lower levels.

Minnesota workers who suffer injuries while working at heights on construction sites or other workplaces might be incapacitated for an extended period. The lack of income along with mounting medical bills can be overwhelming, but the prospect of dealing with the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance program might be daunting. For this reason, many injured workers choose to hire an experienced attorney to navigate the benefits claims process for them.

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