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Falls Are The Leading Cause of Death in Construction

construction of a building with scaffolding and a crane

Construction sites are very active, busy places. There’s a lot of work to be done, and some of it can be quite dangerous. There are safety procedures and protocols that must be followed to protect workers. Despite this, construction accidents still happen every year, leaving workers seriously injured or killed.

One of the most common types of construction accidents are falls. In fact, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Out of 1,008 construction fatalities in 2020, 351 were due to falls down to a lower level.

A focus on preventing falls in construction

These fatal falls could have been prevented. That’s why OSHA has teamed with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) for a “Fall Prevention Campaign.” The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards in the industry.

The campaign breaks the issue down into three steps: Plan, Provide, and Train.


It is up to employers to plan construction projects so that the work can be done safely.

  • How will the work be done?
  • What tasks are involved?
  • What safety equipment will be needed?

Employers should factor in the cost of needed safety equipment into their estimates for the cost of a job. And all of this equipment should be on-site for workers to use. For example, a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) may be needed for a roofing job.


Workers who are performing tasks six feet or more above the ground are at risk for a fall that could result in serious injury or death. Employers must provide workers with all the safety equipment needed to protect them. This equipment may include:

  • Ladders appropriate for the task
  • Scaffolding
  • Guardrail systems
  • Safety net systems
  • Personal fall arrest systems

All safety gear should fit workers properly and equipment should be inspected regularly.


Employers are also responsible for providing training to workers on recognizing fall hazards and the proper setup and use of safety equipment.

OSHA standards require the use of fall protection systems for workers in certain situations, such as the construction of a leading edge, overhand bricklaying and related work, roofing work on low-slope roofs, work on steep roofs, and residential construction.

Supervision and enforcement on the job site

Construction supervisors also need to do their jobs correctly to help prevent falls and other accidents on the job site. Along with monitoring the construction process to ensure compliance with all health and safety regulations, supervisors should be performing routine inspections of all equipment, materials, and the construction site itself.

Enforcement of legal safety regulations, standards, and policies is a critical role of construction supervisors, as they are responsible for monitoring everything on the job site. Inadequate supervision, whether it's cutting corners during the inspection process or getting too loose with enforcement, often results in a worker suffering an injury in an accident.

Talk to an experienced San Antonio construction accident attorney

Workers who survive falls may suffer injuries that require surgery, hospitalization, medication, physical therapy, and multiple follow-up appointments. Recovery from their injuries may take months or longer. Some are left with a permanent disability.

When the negligence of a third party was responsible for an accident, the experienced construction accident attorneys at The Herrera Law Firm fight for the rights of injured workers. We know the impact an injury from a fall can have on workers and their families. We know how to build strong cases and fight for the compensation they deserve.

If you’ve been injured in a fall at a construction site in San Antonio, it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. We can review the details of your accident and go over your legal options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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