Due to the risk of fall injuries at construction sites, OSHA has put a wide variety of regulations in place to help protect workers. Employers are required to follow these standards when implementing fall protection systems. The three most common systems used when a person is working at least six feet above a lower level are:
1. Protective barriers - Guardrails may be installed at the edges of walking surfaces or roofs, and the top rail of a barrier should be 42 inches above the surface where a person walks or works. A guardrail must be able to withstand at least 200 pounds of force.
2. Harnesses - A worker may use a fall arrest system that consists of a harness that is connected to an anchor point, and these systems must keep a worker from falling more than six feet or coming into contact with a lower level. Any snaphooks or connectors used must prevent a worker from becoming disengaged from the harness or the anchor point.
3. Nets - Any safety nets used should be installed as close as possible below a working or walking surface, up to a maximum of 30 feet below the level. Depending on the vertical distance below the working level, a net should extend 8-13 feet horizontally from the edge of the working surface. Nets should be regularly tested, inspected, and kept free of tools or materials.Other fall protection systems that may be used include:
- Warning lines - A barrier made of ropes, wires, or chains may be installed around all sides of a roof to warn workers that they are approaching the edge of the roof or to designate an area in which workers are not required to use guardrails, harnesses, or safety nets.
- Hole covers - Any holes in working or walking surfaces, including skylights, should be covered to prevent a worker from falling into the hole. Holes should also be protected by guardrails, or workers should use safety harnesses.
- Controlled access zones - Certain types of work may be allowed to be performed in areas where traditional fall protection systems are not used. Control lines should be used around the boundaries of these areas, and only approved workers should be permitted to access these areas.
- Safety monitors - In areas where low-slope roofing work is being done, a person may be designated as a safety monitor, and this person will provide warnings to workers when they are acting unsafely or are unaware of fall-related hazards. This person should be on the same walking or working surface as other workers and be able to communicate with them verbally, and they should not have any other duties which distract from their function as a safety monitor.
Contact a Buffalo Grove Workplace Fall Injury Attorney
Workers who have suffered fall injuries at a construction site may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, and they may also be able to pursue compensation from any responsible third parties through a personal injury lawsuit. If you have been injured in a fall while working at a construction site, the attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you determine whether you are eligible to file a workers' comp claim. Contact our Barrington workplace injury lawyers at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free consultation.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.