Falls From Heights — A Deadly Workplace Hazard That Is Easily Preventable
Falls from heights are a leading cause of death and disability on construction sites. According to OSHA, falls cause one-third (1/3) of all construction-related deaths. Workers who survive long falls are often left with a lifetime of chronic pain and disability. In my practice, I’ve had numerous clients who suffered severe injury from falls on construction or industrial sites. I’ve seen many types of falls from heights. Yet, one piece of equipment has been involved in far too many disabling falls — The Scissors Lift.
A recent headline told the tragic story of a young man who died when 50 mile per hour winds toppled the extended lift from which he was working. The death was easily preventable with just a little safety planning. No worker should be required to use a lift outside in bad weather. Too often, deaths like this one go unmentioned. This time, the event made national news. It involved a college student working for the athletic department of a major university. What are a few easily preventable scissors lift falls I’ve seen as an attorney?
- Case Number 1: The scene was a large construction project on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. The contractor was using extended, moving scissors lifts to erect the metal ceiling. A lift toppled because the concrete floor below was uneven. The worker fell almost 30 feet. He survived but was left permanently and totally disabled. The accident could have easily been prevented. Yet, the safe use of lifts was never addressed prior to the fall. After a week-long trial, we were able to recover damages for the severely disabled worker.