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Advocates startled by more falls killing workers

San Diego-area residents who follow the news are familiar with deaths from workers falling from a height.

In April, a worker fell to his death setting up a concert stage. The same month, a memorial service was held for a state transportation worker who died last year in a Kearny Mesa fall. In late July, a landscaper fell from a palm tree in La Jolla.

Death and injury from falls show worrying increase

A notable rise in the number of deaths and injuries from falls among workers in the United State has led California and the federal government, as well as industry and worker advocacy groups, to sound the alarm.

A total of 887 workers died in falls in the U.S. in 2017, the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s the highest number of fatal falls ever recorded in the 26-year history of the BLS’s national count of workplace fatalities.

Falls are also becoming an increasingly large portion of the total deaths in the workplace, accounting for over 17% of all job-related fatalities, also its largest percentage ever.

California mirroring the national trend

Almost half of all deaths in California construction were caused by falls, according to a survey by the California Department of Industrial Relations.

There were 69 construction deaths in 2017, and 32 were from falls. Falls also led manufacturing deaths in that year.

Employers, regulators and the law know falls are preventable

California recognizes the rights of workers to a safe work environment, compensation for work-related illnesses and injuries and your right to be represented by an advocate to help you secure those rights.

Given the high profile of falling accidents and the active efforts of governments to reduce falls, employers have no excuse for not protecting workers.

Of the ten most common violations the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cites, four are directly related to falls (inadequate scaffolding and ladder safety, fall protection and fall prevention training).

Beyond fining employers, OSHA offers employers help in keeping their workers safe and alive. They offer a free On-Site Consultation Program. The program is confidential and is specially designed to be separate from enforcement.

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