The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2018, the construction industry accounted for over 21% of worker fatalities occurring in private business. Falls caused almost 34% of these deaths. Employers must comply with safety regulations designed to shield New York construction workers from fall hazards.
The Occupational and Safety Health Administration sets out detailed procedures and standards for protecting construction workers from falls. Employers must first determine whether walking and working surfaces are strong enough to support the planned work. After making this determination, employers must decide the type of fall protection that is appropriate for the project.
Each job site must have a system that minimizes fall risks for construction workers who are working at heights of six feet or more above a lower level. Fall protection is also mandatory at heights lower than six feet for workers near dangerous equipment or chemicals. For most construction projects, OSHA assumes that conventional fall protection measures are adequate. Such conventional safeguards include systems like guardrails or personal fall prevention equipment. OSHA outlines detailed specifications for the installation and maintenance of these systems.
There may be scenarios in which an employer believes that conventional fall protection systems are not practical or may pose a greater risk. In such cases, an employer may develop an OSHA-compliant, site-specific fall protection plan. Employers must provide workers with training in any such plan.
Construction workers have the right to safe working conditions and may file a complaint with OSHA if they believe their employer is violating safety rules. Employers may not retaliate against workers who raise safety concerns.