Many accidents on construction job sites can be prevented by the proper installation of guardrail protection. Falls are amongst the most common construction accidents that result in serious injury or death. Workers are often called to work at dangerous heights where a guardrail can become the difference in life and death when an accident occurs. A construction site guard rail sufficiently strong enough to withstand a fall into it or a sudden lean on to it can save lives. In serious injury and death cases, a construction guardrail lawsuit may be filed against the negligent contractor, sub-contractor or scaffolding or the guardrail installation company.
In 2011, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) found that over 4000 workers were killed as a result of violations and dangerous work conditions. Most of these deaths were due to the lack of the use OSHA approved construction guardrails or with the use of wooden or temporary construction without the proper safety guard rail height and not built of weight bearing strength to withstand a fall into the guard rail.
Construction employers and other contractors have a duty to provide guardrails in areas where workers are at risk for falling 6 feet or more. OSHA requires employers provide fall protection in one of three forms. These include placing guardrails in the area containing the hazard, using safety nets to protect from falls, or provide personal fall arrest systems for every employee. Employers must also provide training to any employee that might be exposed to fall hazards. These protections must be provided before work begins.
In the case of guardrail protection, OSHA outlines the following provisions that the employer must comply with:
- Top edge height of top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members, must be between 39 and 45 inches above the walking or working level. This can always be increased if the conditions call for an increased height.
- Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, or equivalent intermediate structures, must be installed between the top edge and the walking/working surface when there is no wall or other structure at least 21 inches high.
- Guardrail systems must be capable of withstanding at least 200 pounds of force applied within 2 inches of the top edge, in any direction and at any point. If the top edge bends down to below 39 inches when pressure is applied it does not meet the OSHA guardrail requirements.
- Midrails, screens, mesh and other intermediate protection must be capable of withstanding 150 pounds of force from any direction.
Time and time again, construction employers fail to provide the set out OSHA required guardrails to keep workers protected from dangerous falls. Other times, the guardrails in place do not ever meet the 200 pound force requirement and consist of little more than a 2×4 and a couple nails nailed to the outside of the building vs the inside increasing the guardrail failure rate. Other guardrail negligence occurs when guardrails are removed for other stages of construction such as framing or stuccoing. Workers that remove the guardrails to spray stucco or lay other materials and workers that need to load and unload materials at heights above 6 feet often must remove the temporary guardrail systems. Often times the guard rails are reinstalled in a negligent manner or are not replaced at all risking their lives and others. In a guardrail accident lawsuit the history of installation and maintenance of the subject guardrail is at issue.
Contact a Guardrail Fall Accident Lawyer Today
If you or your loved ones have suffered a severe and debilitating injury or death caused by the lack of a construction site guardrail or due to the use of a non-approved or temporary wooden guardrail that failed to prevent a fall or accident, the Willis Law Firm is here to help you get the compensation you may be entitled to. Often a guardrail fall accident lawsuit must be immediately filed to protect the evidence at the scene and other critical evidence needed to win the lawsuit and damages for the clients. Call for a free case evaluation. Talk to a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer with over 30+ years of construction site accident and injury lawsuit experience.
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