High above the ground, a man stands, sledgehammer in hand, prepared to bring down the rusted, old bridge whose ancient steel beams reach across the murky stream of water below. He mounts the scaffolding, his arms and legs propel him up the structure at a breakneck pace. The sun warms his rugged features and he slows his pace to have a look around. The ground which had been so close to him earlier now seems miles away. A bolt slips from his belt, and he counts quietly to himself, “one, two… three,” until the bolt collides with the muddy earth below. He shakes his head and grabs the next rung. It moves. His fingers slip. He falls backwards, plummeting towards the ground and just manages to get his legs underneath him. With a dull, THUD, he slams into the mud and collapses next to the river.
About a month ago, a 29-year old construction worker had a similar experience when he fell approximately 25 feet from a structure beneath the Pulaski Skyway Bridge. Miraculously, the man suffered no broken bones, though he was placed under careful observation. Not all construction workers are so lucky. According to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “Falls account for more than a third of all deaths in this industry.” The statistic prompted OSHA to launch a Fall Prevention Campaign back in 2012.
The campaign focuses on information distribution, giving employers the necessary lifesaving resources and educational materials so that they may inform their employees. This information includes: how to plan ahead to prevent falls, how to get the right equipment, and training employees to use that equipment. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has partnered with OSHA to expand the campaign.
Dr. John Howard, director of NIOSH, stated, “We are pleased to join again with OSHA and our NORA partners to focus on fall prevention at construction sites. Preventing falls in the construction industry benefits everyone… This safety stand-down serves as an important opportunity for everyone to prevent fall hazards.” The initiative could save both your life and the lives of your employees. If you would like to partner with OSHA for a training seminar please visit http://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/.