According to World Health Organization(WHO), “a fall is defined as an event which results in a person coming to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor or other lower level”. Injuries sustained from a fall could result in death or cause severe injuries. Falls from height have been recorded in medical studies at the top of the list of the causes of the most common workplace accidents, along with being hit by falling objects.
This devastating occurrence is a serious one and causes fatal injuries, which significantly adds to the mortality rate in the world. Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide, according to World Health Organization(WHO).
The determinant of a fall from a height being fatal is not solely dependent on the height of the fall but also on the position with which the individual lands, their clothing, the impact surface, and the safety measures available in cases of workplace accidents. Most falls from height result from accidents, suicides, and, a few times, homicides. Most cases of falls from height usually take place in the workplace due to negligence or carelessness of the people or company, which could be easily avoided. Safety precautions are paramount at workplaces that work with height.
Circumstances That Can Lead To Falls From Height
In the construction industry, which comprises the highest number of injuries and deaths from falls from height in a workplace, there are three main sources of fatal falls, which are: working on roofs, ladders, and scaffolds. Besides that, working in poor weather conditions(high winds, rain), surfaces that are not built properly, and obstacles that cause slips or trips are also common causes of falls from height.
There are also causes of falls in the workplace on the part of the worker or employer. These include complacency, fatigue, rushing, and frustration. These are threats to the safety of the workers and any other person within that vicinity. If any of these are combined, the risk of falling from height increases and could lead to a fatal fall. Outside the workplace, other causes of falls from height are suicides, homicides, and accidents.
For companies to limit the number of workplace accidents in the construction industry and other industries, they must take sufficient steps to prevent falls, hire competent personnel, and train them adequately.
Effects of Falling From a Height
Falls from height could result in various types of injuries, both physical and mental. The following are the major effects of a fall from a height on an individual:
●Broken bones and limbs
●Crush/Injuries to internal organs
●Injuries to the skull and spinal cord
●Mental trauma such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD
In extreme cases, the victim may not live through the injuries and eventually pass out, while others have an immediate death from a fall.
However, it’s not always dependent on the height of the fall. Falls can be deadly at heights as low as six feet.
In the field of safety, there is a saying that “it’s not the fall that kills you but the sudden stop at the end of it”. Usually, the impact of the fall on the body and the worker’s contact with the point of impact make a fall fatal.
Falls from a height can be highly consequential to the victim, as seen in the case of Iris Keys vs Side Extensions Limited. Mrs. Iris Keys, an 86 years old woman, fell from the edge of an unprotected stairwell while walking up a flight of stairs at a construction site and suffered a series of injuries ranging from a fractured hip and right arm to a dislocated left shoulder coupled with lacerations on her forehead and right leg. She didn’t return from this as she died from these outrageous injuries. Her death could have easily been averted if Side Extensions Limited had taken proper measures to prevent a fall, such as ensuring the stairwell opening was covered up.
Likewise, in the case of Employees vs H Cumberbirch & Son Limited, two men, both employees of the said construction company, suffered severe injuries after falling from a height of approximately eight feet while working on a makeshift platform. The platform collapsed and caused one of the men to sustain fractured ribs, severe bruising, and a large wound to his leg, while the other sustained severe bruising to his knees. When the case was investigated, it was found that the construction company did not properly plan how the parapet wall could have been constructed to prevent it from collapsing and its employees from falling.
These cases show the importance of precautions and preventive measures in height-related jobs in the workplace to ensure the safety of all those involved.
How Legal Animation Illustrates Injuries Sustained From Falls From Height
With the results of falls from a height being so tragic and even fatal in some cases, it is only right that the victims of such tragedies or their families are compensated properly. Such cases need to be taken up and addressed by the court to ensure justice is served.
What better way to aid this process than with legal animation?
The need for it cannot be overemphasized to win a case as sensitive as the one in question. The legal practitioner needs to use demonstrative aids as a convincing device. It will aid and facilitate the comprehension of the jurors and the judge.
While the legal system has been used to using oral presentations to drive home cases, it has been proven that visual aids allow a quicker understanding of what is being said.
With the use of legal animation (such as video material), everyone present in the court will not only hear but watch the exact events that resulted in the death or injuries sustained. Through the same, they will find out the anatomic aspect of the case. That is, an internal view of what parts of the victim’s body were damaged and how it happened. The height of the fall, along with the level of the impact made on the body, will also be made crystal clear.
In conclusion, legal animation aids understanding for the court audience, helps the jurors to agree quicker, and saves everyone’s time. All these come together to make work easier on the legal practitioner and take home the win.