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Three necessary steps to preventing workplace falls

Falls are behind 15% of all worker deaths in Georgia and across the U.S. In the construction industry, the danger is even greater with falls accounting for one-third of all worker deaths. Even when they don't end in death, falls can cause severe injuries and disabilities. Their effect can be wide-ranging: Employers may notice, for example, a loss of morale and a decline in productivity.

OSHA and three other government agencies have come up with a three-step plan for preventing falls in the workplace. The three steps are: Plan ahead, provide the right fall protection gear and equipment and train employees on their set-up and use.

In the planning stage, employers should foresee when employees will be working from a height of six feet or higher. Six feet may not sound so high, but people have been injured and even killed at that height. It is at six feet that employees must be provided fall protection gear. The elevated surfaces that employees might be working from can include rooftops, platforms, ladders and cranes.

Fall protection equipment includes ladders, scaffolding and personal fall arrest systems. Employers must make sure that those using PFAS actually wear their harness. Workers must, in general, know what ladders and scaffolds are right for what particular jobs.

Employers cannot foresee all fall hazards, though. It may be, then, that someone is injured in a fall through little or no fault of the employer. In such cases, victims are still eligible for benefits under workers' compensation law. Unlike a personal injury claim, one does not need to prove anyone's negligence to be reimbursed under the workers' comp program. Employers do have the right to deny payment, which is one reason why victims may want legal representation.

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