The construction industry is booming in North Carolina, and greater than 70% of the state’s contractors surveyed said they intend to add on more workers. This is good news, of course, but as noted by the National Safety Council, falling from heights is the second largest cause of on-the-job fatalities. Overall, the construction industry accounts for 20% of the injury-related nonfatal fall-from-height incidents. The majority of the injuries suffered through falls from height are serious enough to result in the affected worker losing days from work.

Employers must provide fall protection and safety equipment for their employees working at heights of six feet or more above a lower level. For those workers at the roof level, specialized safety equipment should be in place. In order to prevent falls on construction sites, OSHA advises employers to approach safety with a coordinated program based on planning, providing and training.

At-height safety employer requirements

Employers must provide safety gear for construction site workers, such as scaffolds and ladders with reliably stable footing. Employers should supply a personal fall arrest system, or PFAS, for workers at the roof level. OSHA’s safety requirements for high-height workers is for each employee’s PFAS to be properly fitted to the individual and securely tied off at the anchor point.

Safety training is an important part of the on-site environment. Before any work begins, all construction site workers must be thoroughly trained in safety procedures and fall-safety equipment use. Each at-height worker should know how to check his or her individual PFAS to be sure it is securely anchored and fits well. Regular inspections of safety equipment conducted by a competent individual should take place on a regular basis.

Workers’ rights when injured at work

The workers’ compensation insurance program provides benefits for North Carolina employees injured on the job. In addition to medical costs and compensation for lost wages, benefits may also include coverage for permanent disabilities or job retraining. Anyone suffering an on-the-job injury has a right to apply for workers’ comp benefits, but he or she should be prepared for what might be a time-consuming and detailed filing process.