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Alabama Construction Falls a Deadly Reality

Feb 18, 2014 - Construction Accidents by

Two men were recently killed in an Alabama construction accident after reportedly falling some 90 feet to the ground from a man-lift on the side of a bridge.
Officials with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration are investigating why the lift failed as the two men were reportedly placing wood under a bracket. Our Tuscaloosa construction accident lawyers understand the lift suddenly became detached from the side of the bridge as the two men were working.

Both men were employed by Montgomery County’s primary contractor, R.R. Dawson Bridge Company, the company tapped to construct a multi-million dollar bridge at Highway 80 East which would pass over Interstate 85. This was just one portion of a 10-bridge project.

County sheriff’s officials have called the deaths of the two men, one from Montgomery and one from Birmingham, accidental.

While no one may intend for injuries or deaths to occur on construction job sites, the reality is they most assuredly will happen unless proper procedures are taken to prevent hazards. This means taking special care to prevent falls in particular, which account for one-third of all construction industry fatalities.

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a campaign intended to raise awareness among construction employers about the dangers of falls, and to urge extensive precautions taken in order to protect workers.

The three primary kinds of falls in construction occur from roofs, ladders and scaffolds, according to the CDC.

Starting with roofs, the CDC, along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, recommends:

  • Wearing a harness and remaining connected at all times;
  • Ensuring that harnesses fit;
  • Using lifelines and guardrails;
  • Guarding or covering all openings, skylights or holes;
  • Inspecting all of your fall protection equipment prior to use.

When working on ladders, employees are encouraged to:

  • Pick out the right ladder for the job;
  • Always maintain three points of contact with the ladder;
  • Always make sure you are facing the ladder;
  • Ensure the ladder is secured;
  • Never stand on top or on the top step of a ladder;
  • Don’t overreach;
  • Make sure the ladder isn’t placed on unlevel footing.

On scaffolding, workers should make sure to:

  • Use only scaffolds that are fully-planked;
  • Make sure scaffold access is properly maintained;
  • Ensure all guardrails are complete;
  • Make sure the footing is stable;
  • Have a competent person inspect the scaffold prior to use;
  • Don’t stand on the guardrails of the scaffolding;
  • Cross-braces should never be climbed;
  • Refrain from using a ladder on top of the scaffolding.

Many construction falls and other related injuries stem from the fact that construction contractors failed to provide the right equipment or properly train workers or ensure that safety checks were part of the routine.

In an addition to a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, an Alabama worker injured in a construction accident may, depending on the particular situation, also seek recovery from a third party. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, a recovery against a third party is not capped by the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Statute.

Additional Resources:

2 people killed in accident at bridge construction site on Highway 80 in Montgomery (updated), Jan. 8, 2014, By Erin Edgemon,
Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction, Updated February 2014, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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