As a result of the falls being the leading cause of death within construction the Occupational Safety & Health Association (OSHA) has launched a new Fall Prevention campaign. In 2010 there were 774 total fatalities in construction, with 264 of those fatalities from falls. That’s more than a third of construction related deaths (34.1 percent), and OSHA’s stance is that all of these deaths are preventable. OSHA has teamed up with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) for this campaign.
These three organizations aren’t the only ones interested in the amount of fall related deaths. New data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) show you don’t have to fall very far for the fall to be deadly. In 2011, CFOI began collecting information on the height of fatal falls. In construction, almost half of the fatal falls (48.8 percent) were from 20 feet or less, 14 percent were from ten feet or less and some were even less than six feet. Only 21.8 percent of victims fell from more than 30 feet.
OSHA believes following a three step ideal can prevent falls and will save lives. These three Steps are:
Plan- Having a plan is a staple of working in the construction field. There are; however; some activities that require more planning and preparation before they can be started and working at height is one of them. On one job site it was required that all contractors performing work fill out a site specific Permit to Work. The Permit to Work gave details of the type of work being performed, where in the facility the work was going to be done, and any types of special circumstances associated with the work. (Work at height, noise/dust/fumes, etc.) For high risk activities there would be a Pre-Task meeting between the contractors, facilities managers, and site EH &S to make sure it was gone about the right way.
Provide- It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the proper fall protection and properly working equipment. Providing the proper equipment is paramount, not all pieces of equipment are appropriate for every job. There are many wonderful safety supply companies within the area that provides top of the line and innovative equipment. These suppliers provide all different types of fall protection products; from lanyards and yoyos to guard rails and metal flagging. Providing new and inspected equipment not only keeps people safe but can keep a company away from any violations.
Train- All employees should be trained properly in how to set up and work with the equipment they are going to be using. A lot of times these are On the Job Trainings (OJT’s) which is beneficial as long as they follow the OSHA Training Requirements. (OSHA Ladder Training Requirements) The training is to be done by a competent person but it is recommended that trainings are done by a certified trainer. If an employee doesn’t seem to retain knowledge is a specific field, whether it be ladder safety or LOTO, the employee should be retrained.
There is an article from May of a construction worker falling to his death while working on a low rise building in New York. He was not wearing fall protection and it was his first day on the job. It is believed that he had not been properly trained before being let onto the site to perform his duties. It appears that Planning, Providing, and Training could have prevented this death. (SoHo Construction Fatality)
If you require assistance in complying with the OSHA Fall Protection standards Cashins & Associates, Inc. can help. Contact us today to speak with an in house construction health amd safety professional. Click below to submit your free safety and health inquiry! We will get back to you within one business day.