The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has partnered with various occupational safety organizations for the sixth annual National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down. Specifically, officials and safety advocates are using the week to promote fall prevention in the construction industry. Currently, falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers.
Falling Death in the Construction Industry
While construction workers use numerous dangerous materials, tools, and vehicles to do their jobs, falling still claims more lives than any other accident in the industry. Weak scaffolding, open trenches, and unsafe ladders are common sources of falls. To make companies and workers more aware of common construction accidents, OSHA tracks deaths and injuries caused by what the administration refers to as The Fatal Four. If these four types of accidents were prevented, 59.9 percent of all construction-related accidents could be prevented. Out of 971 construction deaths in 2017, OSHA found that 39.2 percent of them were fall accidents.
“Falls can be prevented when employers train and educate workers about these hazards properly and provide appropriate protection,” said acting secretary of labor Loren Sweatt. “This should be a priority during the first week of May and must be a priority every day. OSHA has tools readily available for employers and workers to address the prevention of fall hazards.”
OSHA consistently finds fall hazards in job sites nationwide. The administration recently released a list of the most common citations its inspectors gave to employers from October of 2017 to September of 2018. Of the top ten citations, falling hazards accounted for four of them, holding the first, third, sixth, and eight positions on the list. Notably, falling is the only hazard that takes up multiple positions on the top ten citations.
What Is a Safety Stand-Down?
Employers who observe a safety stand-down have an opportunity to speak directly with their employees about a safety issue. For this stand-down, employers are encouraged to give their employees a break from work and use the opportunity to speak to them about fall hazards and fall prevention. If you would like to find out more about the safety stand-down, OSHA has an FAQ to assist employers in facilitating a discussion about fall accidents with their employees. On this FAQ, employers can find resources and materials which they can use at no cost to educate their employees.
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