OSHA Begins Workplace Fall Prevention Program
At the beginning of the week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it has begun a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls in the construction industry. According to the administration, falls are the leading cause of fatal workplace injuries and the violation the agency cites most frequently in construction industry inspections.
The emphasis program will reportedly focus on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in all industries. The targeted enforcement program is based on historical Bureau of Labor Statistics data and OSHA enforcement history, including data showing that of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in 2021, 680 were associated with falls from elevations, or about 13% of all deaths.
“This national emphasis program aligns all of OSHA's fall protection resources to combat one of the most preventable and significant causes of workplace fatalities,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.
“We're launching this program in concert with the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction and the industry's Safety Week. Working together, OSHA and employers in all industries can make lasting changes to improve worker safety and save lives.”
OSHA reports that the program establishes guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards and allows OSHA compliance safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights.
Plan Now for National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Take time out of the work day to discuss fall prevention and hazards during this week, which runs from May 1 to 5, 2023.https://t.co/iyVKWzCvkw #safety #fall #slipsandfalls #workerscomp #construction— NARFA (@NARFAUSA) May 2, 2023
Additionally, an outreach component of the program will focus on educating employers about effective ways to keep their workers safe. If a compliance officer determines an inspection is not necessary after entering a worksite and observing work activities, they will provide outreach on fall protection and leave the site.
Falls in Construction
Held during the first week of May, the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries. The event also follows Workers Memorial Day, which was hosted on April 28.
OSHA reports that fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 378 of the 986 construction fatalities recorded in 2021.
A Safety Stand-Down, according to OSHA, is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention.”
Employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. Additionally, it can be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about falls and other job hazards they see.
To raise awareness throughout the week, OSHA encourages employers to:
OSHA also hosts an Events page with events that are free and open to the public to help employers and employees find events in your area. Employers will be able to provide feedback about their Stand-Down and download a Certificate of Participation following the Stand-Down.
Last Year’s Safety Citations
In December, OSHA revealed its annual top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards for fiscal year 2022. The list was presented exclusively with the National Safety Council during the 2022 NSC Safety Congress & Expo.
Fall Protection – General Requirements remained at the top of the list for the 12th year in a row, followed by Hazard Communication and Respiratory Protection. OSHA’s fiscal year officially ended on Sept. 30.
“OSHA’s annual Top 10 list helps define trends so safety professionals can find the appropriate solutions,” said Lorraine Martin, NSC President and CEO at the National Safety Council during the 2022 NSC Safety Congress & Expo. “Despite advancements in workplace safety, we continue to see the same types of violations each year. It’s more important than ever employers seek education and resources to keep their workers safe.”
The Top 10 most frequently cited standards for FY 2022 are:
Note: The numbers above were pulled from a more recent article from Safety+Health. They have since been updated from the original announcement regarding OSHA’s Top 10 most frequently cited standards for 2022.