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Why Falls Are the Biggest Risk to Construction Workers

Posted on November 29, 2022

The construction industry often requires employees to work from heights. As a result, falls are the biggest risk to construction workers and the leading cause of fatalities.

Causes of Falls in the Construction Industry

Construction workers can fall due to a variety of unsafe conditions, such as:

  • Inadequate fall protection (e.g., harnesses, guardrails, safety nets, etc.)
  • Poorly constructed scaffolding
  • Unfinished roofs (e.g., unguarded edges, openings in the roof, etc.)
  • Unsecured aerial lifts
  • Unmarked or unprotected ledges, wall openings, and floor holes
  • Unmarked trenches and excavation sites
  • Debris on the construction site
  • Faulty ladders
  • Unguarded elevator shafts
  • Inclement weather

Fall accidents were responsible for more than one in three deaths in 2019 (36.4%). When workers do survive, even if a fall was from a short distance, they could suffer severe injuries.

What are Common Injuries Associated With Construction Falls?

Falls often cause catastrophic injuries if they are not fatal, such as the following:

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can range from mild to severe. However, a victim can still face long-term consequences from a minor TBI or concussion and permanent cognitive or physical impairment in extreme cases.

Severe Bone Fractures

Broken arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis breaks are common in construction accidents. They may take weeks to heal, and activities are typically restricted.

Internal Bleeding

Internal organ damage can be life-threatening if not treated immediately after a fall.

Back Injuries

Back injuries of all types can occur, such as herniated or bulging discs, fractures, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and more. These injuries often result in lifelong complications and chronic pain.

When a worker is injured in a fall, they have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits while they recover. If a fall accident is fatal, the construction worker’s surviving family can recover death benefits to pay for burial expenses and a percentage of the deceased’s weekly wages.

How to Prevent Falls on Construction Sites

Fall accidents and fatalities are preventable in construction. As a result, employers are responsible for making workers aware of potential hazards and how to ensure a job is done safely. For example:

Planning Ahead

Before beginning a job that involves working from heights, employers must plan how the job will be done and what safety equipment is needed. All necessary equipment and tools should be readily available at the worksite. For example, personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) can be used for each worker on a roofing job that may have holes, skylights, or leading edges.

Providing the Correct Equipment

Working at six feet or higher above ground or a lower level puts workers at serious risk of injury if they fall. The right equipment, such as the correct kind of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear, should be provided to lower the risk.

Inspecting Equipment

Safety equipment, tools, and machinery used on a job site should be regularly inspected to ensure they are safe for use.


Workers must be trained on the use of safety equipment, how to use other equipment properly, and how to recognize hazards on the job.

What To Do After a Construction Injury

If you have been injured on a construction site, your first step is to seek immediate medical attention. You also need to report the injury to your employer. Then, contact a Waco construction accident attorney to learn how to recover damages for your injury. A lawyer can help you navigate the workers’ compensation system and ensure that you have the appropriate compensation and time you need to recover. If your loved one was in a fatal construction accident, our attorneys can assist you with a wrongful death lawsuit to get you the justice you deserve.