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National safety stand-down will cover fatal construction falls

Of the seemingly innumerable dangers facing workers on the typical construction site, none perhaps looms any larger than falls from heights. Indeed, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has determined that falls are currently the leading cause of fatal construction accidents in the U.S., accounting for over a third of all fatalities.

In recognition of just how much of a problem fatal falls are becoming, OSHA, together with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, launched an ongoing fall-prevention campaign back in 2012.

Here, the campaign revolves around a comprehensive website, where employers can secure vital information concerning everything from how to prevent falls to how to outfit workers with the right kind of fall-protection equipment.

The efforts of these two federal agencies to help combat the number of fatal falls at construction sites consists of more than just this campaign, however, as OSHA recently announced that it is holding a national event designed to raise awareness about this import safety issue.

During the week of June 2-6, OSHA has scheduled a national safety stand-down, meaning employers are being urged to set aside a block of time during the week in which they will temporarily shut down their operations to discuss the issue of fall prevention. Specifically, they are encouraged to address such important topics as safety on ladders, scaffolding and rooftops.

"We're working with employers, workers, industry groups, state OSH plans and civic and faith-based organizations to host safety stand-downs that focus on recognizing hazards and preventing falls," said the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. "We are getting the message out to America's employers that safety pays and falls cost."

Interested employers may visit a new webpage devoted entirely to the safety stand-down, providing everything from free education and training resources to certificates of completion.

Given the truly staggering fall fatality rates in the construction industry, we can only hope that employers across the nation choose to make the safety stand-down a priority this coming summer. In the meantime, workers injured in construction accidents need to remember that they do have options for securing workers' compensation benefits and that an experienced legal professional can help them explore these options.

Source: EHS Today, "OSHA will hold national safety stand-down for construction falls in early June," Josh Cable, March 24, 2014

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