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Construction falls are a leading cause of workplace fatalities

Construction work is well known to be dangerous work. In 2011, 721 workers died in construction accidents. This was 17.5 percent of the total number of work fatalities in private industry that year.

Construction injuries are of course also common. And workers' compensation benefits are therefore very important employees after construction accidents in Maryland and across the country.

Meanwhile, fatal construction accidents continue to occur. And Maryland is by no means immune from them. Last week, in Montgomery County, a worker fell from a high-rise construction site. First responders rushed to the site, but paramedics found the worker dead at the scene.

An investigation is underway. Law enforcement officials asked the Maryland Occupation Safety and Health agency to help determine what happened.

This investigation will help determine the specific facts that led to the fatal fall. Clearly, however, such falls are a major challenge on construction sites in Maryland and elsewhere in the U.S. In 2011, out of 721 total deaths on construction sites, 251 were from falls.

Two of the most frequently cited violations of federal safety standards also relate to falls. Indeed, violation of scaffolding requirements for construction is first on the list of those common violations. Violation of fall protection standards on construction sites is second.

As dangerous as falls are, however, they are far from the only hazards on construction sites. In 2011, electrocutions claimed 67 lives. And 73 workers were killed when they were stuck by an object.

Even the briefest look at these numbers is a stark reminder of the need for employers to do a better job at protecting the safety of construction workers.

Source: "Person Dies At Building Under Construction," WUSA, 3-8-13

Additional source: "Commonly used statistics," OSHA.gov

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