Workplace Falls at Construction Sites Can Be Prevented, OSHA Emphasizes
How often do construction site accidents in Philadelphia result in serious or fatal injuries? According to a recent article in ConstructionDIVE, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has targeted the city of Philadelphia and its construction projects for fall prevention. Why has OSHA looked specifically to Philadelphia? As the article explains, five fall-related incidents occurred at construction sites across the city in a single month, suggesting that more efforts need to be put in place to prevent construction accidents and injuries.
OSHA experts indicate that many of the falls at Philadelphia construction sites were preventable. Had the sites contained proper fall protection features, it is possible that the fall-related accidents would not have happened. Since October of 2015, the Philadelphia office of OSHA has inspected 129 fall-related accidents at construction sites. In total, falls in Philadelphia account for about 40% of all fatal employee accidents.
Of the numerous fall-related accidents that have occurred at construction sites in Philadelphia, some have been fatal. As such, the article emphasizes that OSHA “made a public plea for Philadelphia construction companies to take greater measures to prevent fall-related accidents.” In addition, OSHA partnered with a number of different organizations to implement a “Grassroots Injury-Illness Prevention” campaign, which, according to the article, “will host several forums addressing the city’s safety issues and how to attack them.” What other organizations are involved? Most immediately, the City of Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspections, as well as the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health, are involved in implementing the campaign.
What is OSHA doing to help prevent falls? In addition to events linked to its “Stop Falls” campaign and events connected with its “National Safety Stand-Down,” OSHA has also increased fines. As of August 2016, OSHA penalties have increased by 78%.
Safety Tips for Preventing Construction Site Falls
What can be done to prevent construction site falls? According to a fact sheet from OSHA, employers must take steps to manage fall-related risks, which include:
- Developing, implementing, and committing to a fall-protection program;
- Training employees on the fall protection program; and
- Regularly evaluating the program to determine whether it is sufficiently effective.
The OSHA fact sheet explains that employers have a duty to assess their workplace to ensure that any areas where workers may be walking or standing can support their weight, and that there are sufficient protections in place to prevent fall-related hazards. In addition, employers can prevent falls through applying some of the following safety tips for scaffolding and ladder use:
- Using guardrail, safety net, or fall arrest systems when employees are at a height of six feet or higher;
- Covering holes once they have been created;
- Checking weight limits of ladders;
- Inspecting ladders for any cracks, breaks, or defects; and
- Using ladders that are in compliance with OSHA standards.
If you were injured as a result of a construction accident, an experienced construction accident lawyer can help you determine your rights.