Workplace Falls and Workers Compensation

Injuries and deaths caused by occupational falls are a major issue for both Indiana employers and employees. Some of these falls cause only bruises and embarrassment, but they can also lead to serious injuries, lifelong disabilities and fatalities. Workers can fall on ground level or the shop floor or fall from a height from ladders, scaffolds or aerial trucks.

There are many conditions that can result in workplace falls, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), including:

  • Slippery, cluttered or unstable walking and working surfaces
  • Unprotected edges
  • Holes in walls and wall openings
  • Unsafely positioned ladders
  • Misused and unused fall protection.

In 2014 an estimated 261,930 private employees and those working for state and local governments missed one or more days of work because of injuries due to falls on the same level or to lower levels, with 798 workers dying as a result.

The construction industry suffered the most fall-related deaths. The greatest number of nonfatal fall injuries happened in the healthcare, wholesale and retail industries. Those who are at the highest risk of fall injuries are those working in these fields:

  • Healthcare
  • Building cleaning and maintenance
  • Transportation and material moving
  • Construction and mining.

The costs of workplace fall injuries, including worker’s compensation and medical costs, are estimated to be $70 billion annually in the United States.

Indiana Workplace Falls on the Workplace Floor

The National Floor Safety Institute reports:

  • Bone fractures are the most serious injuries caused by falls, they and happen in 5% of all people who fall.
  • Hip fractures are the most serious and lead to the greatest health problems and number of deaths.
  • Slips and falls are the primary cause of lost work days.
  • They are the top cause of worker’s compensation claims and the leading cause of all occupational injuries for workers 55 and older.
  • Falls from a height are about 40% of compensable fall cases and approximately 10% of occupational fatalities.
  • Falls on the same level, such as from slipping on a floor or tripping on something, account for about 60% of compensable fall cases.

Anyone working outside (especially in areas that are wet, uneven or covered in ice or snow) or in an occupation that requires a lot of walking is at a higher risk of a fall injury.

  • Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries for postal workers, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), along with dog bites and vehicle accidents.
  • Falls were the most common incident leading to injuries causing days away from work for security guards in 2007, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Falls caused 6% of security guard workplace fatalities. Slips, trips and falls were the events causing 39% of their injuries that year, more than any other cause.

Indiana Workplace Falls from Ladders and Lifts

About 43% of fatal falls and about 20% of fall injuries in the workplace from 2001 to 2011 involved a ladder. In the construction field, about 81% of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments involved a ladder, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The NSC states that 350 of the 937 construction fatalities in 2015 were caused by falls from elevation.

Aerial or scissor lifts are powered and mobile platforms used to elevate workers so they can perform various tasks, including tree trimming and removal, painting, firefighting and working on utility lines. This work exposes employee to the risk of falling, potentially from great heights. The CDC estimates that between 2011 and 2014:

  • 1,380 workers were injured while operating an aerial or scissor lift.
  • 360 of the injuries were a result of slips, trips and falls from the lift to a lower level.
  • 87 workers were killed while operating an aerial lift or scissor lift, with 48 deaths caused by slips, trips and falls from the lift to a lower level.

Since they’re often used outdoors, adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, low temperatures and wind increase risks for operators. Lifts used by local government and utility companies are often on the side of the road working on power lines or in the middle of the road working on traffic lights. In these situations, a collision with another vehicle can cause the operator to fall or the whole truck to flip over.

What to Do If You’re Involved in an Indiana Workplace Fall

No matter which side of a claim you are on, a worker’s compensation dispute might seem like an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. With the help of a worker’s compensation attorney, you can be sure that your interests are being represented. At Coriden Glover, our experience is an asset to our clients, and we can give you knowledgeable, skilled representation in all stages of a dispute. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you by calling us at (812) 375-9800 or filling out our online contact form.