Construction site safety is important at all levels in construction work, but especially critical where heights are involved. Building statistics provided by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveal that in 2012, 279 worker fatalities and over 8,800 injuries resulted in falls and other accidents where height was a significant factor. That’s why the agency has begun a series of “Safety Stand-Downs” at selected sites to increase awareness of the dangers involved in working above ground level and the measures necessary to make it safer.
Government and union officials, as well as local builders and contractors, are joining in the effort to educate the workforce. Major trade groups like the Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Builders and Contractors and National Home Builders Association are also on board. As one industry spokesman said, “Our goal is zero fatalities and zero injuries.”
While the potential for serious injury or fatality obviously increases at higher levels, even workers at modest height are at risk. Over 20 percent of injuries attributed to falls in 2012 occurred at heights of 10 feet or less. Scenarios that place workers at these heights are common in virtually all forms of residential and commercial construction, as well as renovations and remodels.
A typical Safety Stand-Down involves bringing all work on the site to a standstill for a short period of time so workers, employers and OSHA representatives can meet and information about site safety relating specifically to fall hazards can be distributed. In a recent meeting, a representative of a major safety-equipment manufacturer conducted a demonstration of common safety equipment such as anchoring devices, body wear and connectors. A question-and-answer period generally follows, during which workers and employers alike are encouraged to offer suggestions and raise inquiries. OSHA predicts that about one million construction workers nationwide will participate and benefit from these site Safety Stand-Downs.
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