The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a program in four Southern states aimed at exposing fall hazards at construction sites, the agency’s Atlanta offices announced. The program, which kicked off on August 20, comes in response to an upward trend in the number of falling deaths within the construction industry.
Construction work consistently ranks as one of the country’s deadliest occupations, according to Labor Department records, and falling hazards are mostly to blame. In fact, falls are one of the four leading causes of all workplace fatalities in the Southeastern U.S. In 2010, there were 264 fall-related fatalities on construction sites, all but nine of which involved falling to a lower level.
In an effort to reduce the number of fatal falls, OSHA started identifying construction worksites in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi that may be exposing workers to fall hazards. OSHA authorities then visit those sites unannounced to conduct inspections aimed at identifying falling hazards and any other safety risks they encounter “in plain sight.”
“OSHA’s goal is to raise awareness about fall hazards and eliminate those conditions that lead to employee deaths,” said Cindy Coe, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “Our compliance officers will conduct immediate inspections when they observe employees working from elevation without fall protection.”
A number of special emphasis programs allow OSHA to open inspections immediately when safety and health hazards are apparent at a worksite. The program aimed at identifying fall hazards in construction is one such program in the Southeast where the risks are higher than normal. In addition to uncovering these safety risks, OSHA’s program also includes outreach, education, and training for employers and employees.