The US Department of Labor has announced a new National Emphasis Program to reduce and prevent workplace falls, which are the leading cause of workplace fatalities. This program is aimed at protecting workers from falls and ensuring their safety while on the job. One of the key changes in this program is that OSHA compliance safety and health officers can now open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights. This is a significant step forward in ensuring that workers are protected and that employers are held accountable for providing safe working conditions.
The Importance of Workplace Safety
Workplace safety is of utmost importance, and falls are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries and fatalities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that in 2021, there were a total of 5,190 workplace fatalities across all industries. Of these fatalities, 850 were due to falls, with 680 of those falls resulting in a fall to a lower level. This means that falls are responsible for approximately 13% of all workplace fatalities, making it a significant cause of death in the workplace. This is a staggering number, and it highlights the need for increased safety measures in the workplace. The National Emphasis Program announced by the US Department of Labor is a step in the right direction, as it aims to reduce and prevent falls by targeting industries and worksites where falls are most likely to occur.
The National Emphasis Program
The National Emphasis Program is a comprehensive initiative aimed at reducing and preventing falls in the workplace. The program is focused on industries and worksites where falls are most common, such as construction, roofing, and telecommunications. Under this program, OSHA compliance safety and health officers can now open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights. This means that employers will be held accountable for providing safe working conditions and ensuring that their workers are protected from falls.
The scope of the National Emphasis Program includes all construction inspections related to falls, as well as non-construction inspections targeting specific activities where falls are most common. These activities include roof top mechanical work/maintenance, utility line work/maintenance, arborist/tree trimming, holiday light installation, road sign maintenance/billboards, power washing buildings, gutter cleaning, chimney cleaning, window cleaning, and communication towers.
For other non-construction work activities where a worker is observed working at height, an inspection may be initiated upon approval by area office management. If an inspection is not warranted after entering the site and observing work activities, the CSHO will conduct an outreach activity on fall protection and exit the site. This outreach is aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of falls and providing information on how to prevent them. This includes training programs for workers and employers, as well as the development of best practices and guidelines for fall prevention.
A Significant Step Forward
The National Emphasis Program announced by the US Department of Labor is a significant step forward in ensuring workplace safety and preventing falls. By targeting industries and worksites where falls are most common and allowing OSHA compliance safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights, this program will help to protect workers and hold employers accountable for providing safe working conditions. It is important for employers and workers alike to take this issue seriously and to work together to prevent falls and ensure workplace safety.