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Greatest risk in construction work: Falls

As New York City construction workers know, fall hazards are some of the most common and dangerous hazards on a work site.

Falls account for more fatalities and injuries than any other kind of construction work hazard, according to the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA recently cited a construction company for safety violations the agency said were putting workers in real danger of falls from heights. The Texas company was hit with nine citations for violations occurring last October.

Workers at a San Marcos work site were putting up concrete steel forms of heights up to 15 feet without any fall protection equipment. The OSHA inspection was apparently triggered by a complaint about unsafe work conditions.

OSHA ticketed the company for failing to provide the fall protection gear, for failing to train workers in fall protection, for failing to ensure rigging inspections take place, for failing to make sure that safe lifting practices are used by forklift operators.

The company's citations don't end there, however. It also failed to guard reinforcing steel against impalement risks for workers and it failed to make sure construction area debris was cleared away, OSHA says in its report.

"A lack of fall protection means workers are one slip or step away from deadly or disabling falls," the OSHA area director said in a statement about the citations.

OSHA requires employers to provide fall protection, including rails, nets or personal fall arrest systems when construction work is taking place six feet or more above another level.

Any New York construction worker injured on the job in a fall or other mishap should make sure to file for workers' compensation in a timely manner. If benefits are then denied, they should know they have the right to appeal with the assistance of an attorney.

Source: OSHA, "Wolff Construction cited by US Labor Department's OSHA for exposing workers to falls and other hazards at San Marcos, Texas, work site," Feb. 26, 2013

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