The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that the number of fatal workplace fall accidents in New York State has increased, contrary to the national trend. In 2012, 42 workers in New York fell to their deaths, ten more than in 2011.
OSHA fall prevention requirements are in force whenever a worker is four feet off the ground in an industrial site and six feet off the ground at a construction site.
According to OSHA spokesperson Ron Williams, workers who do their jobs off the ground need to plan their work and consciously put safety measures in place before starting work. He also said that workers today are more willing to speak up about safety problems at work than was the case in the past. However, he was not able to speak about the reason for the increase in New York falls. He said it might be because of increased construction activity, but that construction has increased everywhere and there has been no corresponding increase in other states.
Falls happen when workers don’t have harnesses or when there are no railings or safety bars on roofs. The week is OSHA’s effort to draw attention to the need for fall prevention, called the National Safety Stand-Down. OSHA recommends that employers use the break in the workday to conduct toolbox talks, equipment inspections and other safety education activities.
- OSHA suggests the following to employers conducting stand-downs:
- Organize the event early
- Ask subcontractors, building owners and others associated with the project to participate
- Review the company’s fall prevention program
- Decide the type of information that best suits your worksite and will help your workforce
- Determine when to hold the stand-down and how long it will last
- Promote the event and encourage participation – maybe by serving refreshments
- Develop follow up strategies
Falls are preventable and not simply “accidents,” according to OSHA. By planning ahead and making sure all employees have the right training and equipment, construction falls in New York could be reduced.
Source, EHS Today, “Tips for a Successful Fall Prevention Stand-Down,” June 2, 2014.