In Pennsylvania, as in other states, the construction industry is full of safety hazards. Falls from elevated surfaces are especially frequent. Nationwide Insurance recently found that out of the more than 10,000 workers’ compensation claims that it processed in the past five years, nearly a third were concerned with falls. Falls can be prevented, though, with the right safety training.

This is why Nationwide recently supported the Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, which was sponsored by OSHA and held between May 7 and 11. During this nationwide event, many construction companies put a stop to operations to train their employees on proper inspection methods, equipment use and hazard assessment. For many, the stand-down was a good way to get workers to accept ongoing training.

Nationwide has given some recommendations as to what safety training can include. For example, employees can be trained on the proper use of mobile scaffolding and lifts. They should be taught to avoid using A-frame ladders when possible, opting for podium stepladders. They should be trained on hauling materials with the help of ropes, pulleys and block and tackle.

Employers, for their part, should ensure that elevated surfaces are equipped with protective gear like guardrails. Preventing falls is important because resulting claims can be particularly costly. Workers injured in falls also tend to spend more time away from work.

Injured workers may be able to take advantage of the workers compensation program if the employer has the insurance. To qualify for these benefits, victims do not need to show that anyone was responsible for the accident; however, the program does waive victims’ right to sue their employer. Filing for these benefits might go more smoothly with a lawyer. A lawyer may also help victims decide between a lump-sum payment or a structured payment plan. If necessary, the lawyer may help mount an appeal.