Federal safety regulators are mobilizing in the greater Philadelphia area to address what the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said is “an alarming series of tragic – and preventable” deaths and debilitating injuries at construction sites in one month’s time.
OSHA’s call to construction companies in the Philadelphia area was triggered by the July 7 death of Roy Chacon, a 37-year-old roofing worker who fell 25 feet to his death at a worksite in the Philadelphia-area community of Haverford.
Mr. Chacon was the fifth Philly construction worker to be killed or maimed since June 13. All of the accidents were attributed to a lack of required fall protections.
“With basic fall protection in place, these employers could have prevented these tragedies. Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the deceased workers and with those who must learn to cope with permanent disabilities because their employers failed to ensure a safe workplace,” said OSHA Philadelphia Area Office Director Nicholas DeJesse.
“Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and the use of proper fall protection can be the difference between death and workers going home to their families,” Mr. DeJesse added. “We at OSHA cannot – and will not – tolerate employers who jeopardize worker safety.”
OSHA said it is working with the City of Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspections and the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health to launch a safety awareness campaign called “Grassroots Injury-Illness Prevention,” or GRIIP. Starting this month, the GRIIP campaign will bring together employers, workers, labor union officials, and other workplace safety advocates for a series of forums seeking a collaborative approach to address construction site health and safety issues.
The construction industry consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous industries for workers in the U.S., and falling is one of the leading causes of injury and death among construction workers.
Philadelphia is no exception. OSHA’s Philly Office has conducted 129 inspections related to worker falls in the construction industry since Oct. 1, 2015. The agency found falls accounted for 40 percent of all fatalities investigated by the office.