Recently, the Maryland Montgomery County Worker Health and Safety Commission joined forces with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to educate workers about fall hazards in the workplace. Montgomery County will focus on preventing fatal accidents that cost the lives of workers. The Health and Safety Commission placed posters inside more than 200 buses across the county. The message to workers is powerful yet simple. “Safety Pays”. Falls Cost.”
According to OSHA, falls are the most frequent cause of fatalities at construction sites and annually account for one of every three construction-related deaths. Being aware of fall hazards on the job is just the first step. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.
So, how should Maryland employers prevent their workers from falls because of misuse of ladders, improper erection and dismantling of scaffolds, working on loading platforms, working near unprotected sides, falling onto protruding unprotected rebar, slips, trips and falls because of unguarded holes in floors and roofs, etc.?
It’s simple. PLAN, PROVIDE, and TRAIN.
Employers should plan ahead to ensure employee safety. Every project is different and requires a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) to identify fall hazards for each phase of the job. When estimating the cost of a job, include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site.
Employers must provide the right equipment. Provide workers with the proper scaffolds or ladders to help avoid injury and death.
When workers understand how to recognize and evaluate fall hazards they help themselves avoid injury. The proper use and inspection of ladders, guard rails, and PFAS, is the key to a safe workplace.
Here are a few more items to get employers started:
· Evaluate your company’s fall hazards.
· Employers are required to have a written fall protection plan in place for workers.
· Fall protection such as, guard rails, Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), safety nets, and “warning line systems” must be used.
· Have a dedicated “Competent Person” at the jobsite.
· Employers should conduct tailgate fall protection training. Selection and use of equipment as well as equipment inspection are topics to be delivered in training by a knowledgeable person.
Most employers find complying with OSHA regulations challenging, costly, and time consuming. The safety consultants at United Alliance Service Corporation can help. Visit our website, www.unitedallianceservices.com. We provide consulting services and training to help you protect your workers from falls.