OSHA has given fall protection safety in construction a lot of attention recently. Falls are one of the top causes of injuries and fatalities in the workplace, particularly in construction. In 2013, out of 796 total fatalities in construction, 294 of them were due to falls. That’s a two percent increase in fatalities due to falls from 2012. In June 2014, OSHA conducted a national safety stand-down to raise awareness for fall protection in construction. The stand-down included activities regarding fall protection training. Cell tower construction also popped up on OSHA’s radar recently because of worker fatalities due to falls.
Four different contractors in Massachusetts were recently fined by OSHA. OSHA investigators reported to the worksite, where employees were performing renovation work. The four contractors were cited for lack of fall protection for roofing employees, unguarded floor holes, insufficient anchorage for fall protection, and for not training employees to recognize fall hazards. The total amount of fines for the four contractors was $110,670.
OSHA also recently responded to a worker complaint from a concrete manufacturer in New Hampshire. When OSHA investigated, they uncovered several violations, including; workers on top of formwork and concrete structures with no fall protection, as well as employees in danger of being crushed, and exposed to dangerous noise levels because of lack of safeguards. OSHA fined the concrete manufacturer $230,400 for the several violations. In addition to the concrete manufacturer, the temporary staffing firm that supplied workers to the company received $7,000 in fines.
Falls at work can happen in any industry, but due to the changing nature of the work sites, construction workers are particularly exposed to fall hazards. Too often I drive by work sites that have visible hazards such as the one pictured here.
OSHA.gov offers the following guidance to protect workers from being injured from falls:
In the construction industry, OSHA requires that fall protection must be provided to employees at elevations of six feet.
Guard every hole into which a worker could accidentally walk by using a railing and toe-board, or a floor hole cover.
On every elevated, open-sided platform, floor, or runway, a guard rail and toe-board must be provided.
Regardless of height, if it is possible for an employee to fall into a dangerous machine or piece of equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt), employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling into the hazardous equipment.
Provide fall protection where required, such as safety harness an line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
Employers are required to provide working conditions that are free from known dangers.
Keep floors in work areas in a clean, and so far as possible, a dry condition.
Select and provide required personal protective equipment (PPE) at no cost to works.
Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
To schedule OSHA Fall Protection Hazard Awareness training, Fall Protection for the Competent Person training, Job Hazard Analysis training, or any other safety training, please call (877) 399-1698