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Fall injuries in California workplaces

Many people are seriously injured or killed in workplace fall injuries every year. These injuries occur across industry types, with the highest number of fatalities coming from the construction industry. Health services, wholesale and retail workers together comprised the greatest number of nonfatal fall injuries while at work.

Falls can occur due to several different factors. Most are due to slippery floors, improperly positioned ladders, holes in floors, unprotected edges, unstable walkways and improperly used or nonexistent fall protection. Cluttered floors also contribute to many fall injuries.

A Bureau of Labor Statistics study from 2009 is revealing of the extent of the problem. In that year alone, 212,760 workers suffered serious fall-related injuries. Additionally, 606 workers were killed. Injuries result from both falls on the same level as well as those to a lower level. State and federal regulations are in place in order to govern workplace safety practices leading to fall injuries, but many still occur. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the continued prevalence of such injuries, despite regulatory action, shows a culture of unsafe practices in workplaces.

Annual costs in the country due to fall injuries approach $70 billion annually. It would behoove employers to take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of injuries to their employees. Workers who have fallen and suffered career-ending injuries as a result should consider filing a workers' compensation claim. Most California employers are required to carry this type of insurance in order to provide compensation to those who are injured while working on the job. Seriously injured workers may receive disability payments each month through workers' compensation to replace the income they would have received if they had not suffered the injury. Medical expenses and ongoing treatment and rehabilitation costs may also be covered as well.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Fall Injuries Prevention in the Workplace", Jan. 11, 2015

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