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Falls Prevalent At Construction Sites

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, November 21, 2008 12:07 PM EST
Category: On The Road, In The Workplace
Tags: Work Site Safety, Construction Safety, Falls, Property Liability, OSHA

Philadelphia partners with OSHA on worker safety


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockphoto/ Joe Gough


Last December, Ironworker Drew Mecutchen, 44, fell from a five-story construction site at a new hospital in North Philadelphia. He died from his injuries.

Each year more than 100,000 are injured from falls on a construction site, according to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

Nationwide, falls are the second most common cause of workplace deaths.  Mecutchen was just one of 442 construction workers who died in falls at job sites last year.

In cooperation with OSHA, the Philadelphia area Steel Erectors Association and Iron Workers Union is promoting a workplace safety program. The emphasis will include fall prevention, safety and health at the job and training.

Osha, last month, revealed a new web page on fall prevention.  Job site warnings include:

  • Never standing on the top rung of a ladder
  • Using handrails going up or down stairs
  • Keeping cords, welding leads and air hoses out of walkways or work areas
  • Use fall protection equipment appropriate for the task
  • Understand where floor openings and open shafts exist
  • Identify all potential tripping and fall hazards before the job
  • Falling from roofs is particularly hazardous. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 686 deaths occurred from construction worker falls from roofs from 2003 to 2007.

These safety tips work for any construction site, even at home. OSHA reports that falls account for one out of every three construction-related deaths, and the number of fall deaths has increased in recent years.

The labor-funded Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health (PHILAPOSH) has a separate construction-safety fall-prevention project targeted at smaller contractors.

This spring, Congress criticized OSHA for weak and ineffective criminal and civil enforcement penalties, with the law permitting a maximum prison sentence of six months for violating a safety standard that leads to the death of a worker.

The report notes that OSHA has the power to impose a maximum penalty of $70,000 but rarely does so.  

On June 24, the President of the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) stated before the House Education and Labor Committee that there is a need for the creation of an OSHA agency specifically dedicated to construction

The hearing was to decide if the Occupational Safety & Health Administration was adequately enforcing construction safety measures. #

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