The July 24 death of 54-year-old Lawrence O’Leary, of Seymour, Conn., due to injuries he sustained on July 10 after falling 40 feet while working on a Logan Airport (Boston) parking garage underscores the dangers of fall hazards, according to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH).
O’Leary is the second ironworker to die from injuries at a Massachusetts construction site in the past six weeks.
In Massachusetts, from 2008-2013, an average of eight construction workers were killed every year from falling at work and falls accounted for more than half of all fatal injuries to construction workers, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Over this time period, the construction industry had the highest rate of fatal falls, more than 10 times the statewide rate of fatal falls for all industries.
In an effort to address the high numbers of fatal construction falls, the Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction, a labor-government-management effort, urges employers to:
- Plan ahead to get the job done safely by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task;
- Provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds and safety gear; and
- Train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems and other equipment they'll be using on the job.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Lawrence O’Leary,” said MassCOSH Executive Director Marcy Goldstein-Gelb. “This tragedy highlights the urgent need for employers to evaluate all potential hazards and institute life-saving safety measures before putting workers in harm’s way.”
According to MassCOSH records, 33 workers have been killed on the job this year. This figure includes four firefighters who died from occupational illness.