Working from heights: Are mobile elevating work platforms the answer?

New data appears to support the use of mobile elevating work platforms to reduce the risk of fatalities connected to falls at construction sites.

Working from heights is dangerous. According to the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), the leading cause of death on construction sites is falls. Falls contributed to 302 out of 828 deaths in construction during 2013. The danger of working from heights is highlighted by the gap between the first and second leading causes of death. The second leading cause of death at these sites: struck by object accidents with 84 deaths.

Falls can occur in a variety of situations at construction sites. Construction workers often use cranes, scaffolding, ladders and other tools to assist them in reaching their work sites. EHSToday, a news source focusing on occupational health and safety information, recently discussed the need for working at heights, focusing on the safest way to accomplish this goal. According to research cited from the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), a recent article in EHSToday argues that mobile elevating work platforms (MEWP) provide one of the safest ways to work from heights.

Data to back up the claims: Mobile work stations and fatality rates

The article delves into fatalities connected to the use of these mobile work stations, noting that although there were 68 reported MEWP fatalities worldwide the fatal injury rate for those using this system is estimated at 0.04. Fatalities connected to work while using MEWP systems also appear to be declining. In 2014 the number dropped to 64, translating to a fatal injury rate of 0.035.

OSHA is working to increase the safety of construction sites with its Fall Prevention Campaign. The campaign focuses on three steps to reduce the risk of injuries from falls: plan, provide and train. If the information provided from the article above is supported, employers may be encouraged to consider the use of mobile work stations for work from heights as opposed to scaffolding, ladders and other alternatives.

When accidents happen: Importance of legal counsel

Unfortunately, even when precautions are taken accidents can happen. Those who are injured in a construction accident are likely eligible to receive compensation to help cover the costs associated with the accident. Workers' compensation benefits are generally available, but depending on the details of the accident additional compensation may be available through a third party personal injury lawsuit. Contact an experienced construction accident attorney to discuss your options and better ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled.