Fall protection remains a persistent problem in workplaces in Minnesota and across the country, and the data suggests that workers in the construction industry face the greatest fall risks of all. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that almost 40 percent of the construction workers killed on the job in 2015 died in incidents involving falls, and four of the agency’s most commonly cited violations deal specifically with construction sector safety regulations.
Construction companies are routinely cited for not providing their workers with the proper equipment or training needed to reduce fall injuries and fatalities, and the penalties can be severe for employers with troubled safety records. Other common violations include not installing guardrails on scaffolding and allowing ladders to be used improperly. In August, a Florida roofing company was ordered to pay a $1.5 million for failing to address fall protection issues, and it was also added to the list of employers subjected to additional scrutiny under OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Fines are not the only tool OSHA uses to encourage compliance with workplace safety regulations. The agency may also make an example of persistent violators by releasing details of their safety infractions and the possible penalties they could face to the press. However, it has been noticed that OSHA has been far more reluctant to issue press releases since Donald Trump assumed the presidency.
Workers in Minnesota who suffer injuries caused by falls are often face prolonged periods without a paycheck. The state’s workers’ compensation program is designed to help injured workers to cover their medical bills and other expenses until they are able to reenter the workforce, but the application process can be daunting to those unfamiliar with official bureaucracy. Attorneys with experience in these claims could provide assistance during the application process and help to ensure that injured workers apply for all of the benefits they qualify for.