How much financial risk are you facing if you don’t maintain an effective fall protection program? Probably more than you think. Some organizations say they don’t invest in fall protection because it is so expensive. But, a recent court case shows that it may be even more expensive if you don’t provide fall protection correctly—let alone at all.
Earlier this year, a jury awarded an Illinois construction worker $64 million in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a workplace fall injury. The worker was left mostly paralyzed from the chest down after a 15-foot fall from a steel beam onto a concrete foundation below.
The construction company argued that workers are required to attach themselves to support structures via safety harnesses, but the worker failed to do so in this case. The worker’s attorney alleged that the contractor did not provide safety measures on the particular beam he was working from.
This is a classic case of shared blame. Officially, the jury’s verdict assigned 20 percent of the responsibility for the accident to the worker and the remaining 80 percent to the construction company.
While the company is planning to appeal, it’s important to note that this verdict was rendered even with some semblance of a fall protection program in place. Imagine if the company had been completely negligent in fall protection.
According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, the verdict is the highest in Illinois history for such a case. While this large reward is not a typical result, it’s worth considering when you determine your budget for fall protection. Can your organization afford that risk?