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Preventing falls in the workplace

Pennsylvania workers should keep in mind that falls in the workplace are a serious concern. In 2009, more than 600 workers were killed in falls, and over 200,000 suffered serious injuries. While falls are particularly dangerous in the construction and medical industries, they are a concern in every type of occupation. Transportation, retail, and building maintenance and cleaning are other industries that see a high incidence of falls.

Many falls could be easily prevented. Slippery surfaces, improperly placed ladders and cluttered work areas are all common causes of falls. Other causes include openings in floors and walls, unprotected edges, and the misuse of fall protection. Both the federal government and industry standards require certain safety measures in the workplace, but this does not prevent a culture that fails to make safety a higher priority.

Injuries from work-related falls also constitute a serious financial burden. Annual estimates are that medical and workers' compensation expenses attributable to such incidents are in the billions of dollars. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducts research around fall prevention. It also makes an effort to lead industry, regulators, safety professionals and others concerned in prevention efforts.

An individual who is injured on the job in a fall may wish to consult an attorney. While those who suffer workplace injuries or illnesses may be eligible for workers' compensation, the process of applying for benefits can seem complicated. In addition, an injured worker may be concerned about prohibited employer retaliation or may simply be uncertain as to how to begin the process. Meanwhile, expenses from medical care and time off work will continue to mount. A workers' compensation attorney can assist throughout the process.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Fall Injuries Prevention in the Workplace", accessed on Jan. 25, 2015

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