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Fall accidents cause a large percentage of occupational injuries

As with any workplace accidents in Colorado, falls can occur in any industry. Employers are required to follow strict safety regulations, many of which are specifically aimed at preventing occupational injuries and fatalities that result from falls. Statistics shows that more than 10 percent of fatal workplace injuries are caused by falls, and fall injuries that lead to time away from work account for more than 20 percent of on-the-job accidents.

One man described how a fall from a ladder affected his life after a ladder tipped over. He had been working on constructing a Christmas parade float. He fell a distance of about 11 feet and suffered severe injuries, including three broken vertebrae and a fractured shoulder blade. The man says he had to relearn basic actions such as brushing his teeth and shaving, and it was estimated he will be unable to work for about six weeks. Injuries that commonly result from fall accidents include muscle strains, sprains or tears, fractured bones, bruising and concussion.

Fall accidents in the retail trade number only slightly less than the 25 percent that occurs in the service industry. While fall accident numbers in private industries are declining, the risk in the mining, construction, transportation and utility industries remains high. Almost 33 percent of nonfatal falls are suffered by construction and industrial workers, while laborers and truck drivers make up 3 and 10 percent, respectively. About one in every 20 nonfatal fall accidents is suffered by workers in the service industry, such as cooks, cleaners, janitors and nurses aides.

Colorado workers who have suffered occupational injuries that resulted from a fall while on duty may have to spend a significant time away from work. This may cause financial hardship as medical bills will also have to be settled. Fortunately, injured workers may claim workers' compensation benefits that typically cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages. In cases where an injury causes temporary or permanent disability, additional benefits may be included. Workers that are unable to continue their existing profession may receive occupational training to equip them with skills to do an alternative job.

Source: swvatoday.com, "Extension Answers: Preventing workplace falls", Dr. Andy Overbay, Dec. 21, 2014

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