Already this year, OSHA has issued citations and penalties in hundreds of workplace cases, including numerous in the construction industry for failing to provide the right equipment and procedures needed to protect employees against fall hazards.
OSHA was particularly harsh in citing a Cincinnati company after a roofer fell 40 feet to his death in 2015. According to OSHA, if the company had provided the employee with proper fall protection, his life could have been saved.
OSHA investigators said the worker had been installing a new commercial roof without the protection provided by guardrails, safety nets or personal fall prevention equipment and devices. The investigators also said the company failed to train employees about fall hazards and designate a safety monitor.
“Four of 10 fatalities in the construction industry in 2014 were the result of a deadly fall,” said Cincinnati OSHA area director Ken Montgomery. “Falls are a leading cause of death for construction workers and can be prevented with proper fall protection. Yet another worker has died needlessly because his employer failed to protect his safety. This has to stop.”
Other citations in 2016 included a Florida company that was cited for failing to ensure employees were properly wearing fall protection equipment and an Alabama company for failing to provide fall protection equipment for employees working from heights of up to 9 feet. In one of those citations, OSHA said the company showed a deliberate lack of concern for the safety of its employees by refusing to comply with fall protection standards.
Fall Protection Equipment
According to OSHA, fall protection products can be categorized in four functional areas — Fall Arrest; Positioning; Suspension; and Retrieval. Here is a breakdown:
Fall arrest: To minimize risks that an employee could fall from an elevated position, a company should set up a fall arrest system for those working at a height of six feet or more.
Positioning: A system that holds employees in place but allows them to continue to work freely with their hands.
Suspension: Equipment that lowers and supports an employee but enables them to work with their hands free.
Retrieval: A fall management program also should provide for a retrieval process in the event of a fall.
Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was established in 1970, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment. For more information, call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA or visit the OSHA website.