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OSHA to construction industry: Fall prevention is a year-round concern

Last week, our blog discussed how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration along with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the National Occupational Research Agenda teamed up to sponsor a National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.

This nationwide initiative, which ran from May 2-6, called on construction firms, residential contractors, trade associations, unions and all other players in the industry to set aside some time to raise awareness about the danger of falls from elevation, which ranked as the leading cause of construction worker fatalities as recently as fiscal year 2014. 

It's important for the construction industry to understand, however, that even though the Safety Stand-Down is now behind us, fall prevention must remain a year-round concern on all worksites.

To that end,  the three aforementioned agencies along with several other federal counterparts have released a catalogue of resources exhorting the construction industry to take the following three-pronged approach to fall prevention: Plan ahead to get the job done safely, Provide the right roof equipment and Train everyone to use the equipment safely.

These materials also outline a series of basic safety steps that workers can follow to protect themselves while working from heights.

Scaffolding

  • Ensure the scaffolding is fully planked, level and outfitted with all necessary guardrails
  • Make certain footing is stable and access is safe
  • Have scaffolding inspected by a qualified individual prior to use
  • Don't stand on guardrails, use a ladder at the top level or climb on cross-braces

Roofs   

  • Use lifelines, guardrails and a properly-fitted harness
  • Ensure all skylights, holes and openings are properly covered or guarded
  • Have fall protection equipment inspected by a qualified individual prior to use
  • Don't use defective equipment, disconnect from lifelines while on the roof or work in areas with unprotected openings

Ladders

  • Select the appropriate ladder for the task at hand
  • Ensure the ladder is secure and maintains contact with the ground
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down
  • Don't overreach, stand on either the top step or top of the ladder, or set the ladder down on an uneven surface

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a construction project -- from bidding to contract review -- consider speaking with a highly skilled legal professional.

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