OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr., as well as key construction stakeholders from organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders, the Associated Builders of America, the Construction Safety Council and many others, provided educational materials to working teens at the event, which was held at Thomas Edison High School in Silver Spring, Md. The materials offer tips on how to avoid construction hazards and how to work safer.
“This summer, many young people will work in the construction industry,” Foulke said. “... Employers want a new generation of graduates to choose construction, and so they should be doing everything possible to make construction a safe, healthy and rewarding career choice.”
Foulke remarked that when he first started working at a law firm in South Carolina, he was sent to a construction site to train employers on how to keep their workers safe and healthy. That same day, one of the workers fell off a ladder 6 to 8 feet from the ground and died. He said this experience not only started his involvement in the realm of workplace safety and health, but also made him see how even the smallest of hazards could take somebody's life.
“I saw how quickly somebody could be injured and more seriously, how somebody can actually die,” Foulke said.
Role-Playing Demonstrated Seriousness of Small Hazards
During the event, students from Thomas Edison High School role-played situations common in the construction industry, demonstrating how the smallest of hazards can cause a worker serious injury.
For instance, during a mock demonstration, a student posing as construction worker was instructed to grab a piece of plywood that had a “Do Not Remove” sign on it, as the plywood was covering up a “hole” (which, for the purposes of the demonstration, was a bag of dirt). Another student, who was sweeping the floor and had his back to the “hole,” pretended to trip and fall.
Although the presentation drew laughter from the crowd, it showed how negligence and a lack of safety can seriously hurt somebody.
“Please pay attention to your training, to your surroundings and always use your sense so that way you will be able to build a safe foundation,” said Danezza Quintero, OSHA's senior safety and health specialist with the Office of Construction Services. Quintero helped the students prepare the demonstration for the event.
OSHA has launched its “Construction: Build a Safe Work Foundation” Web page, which provides teens construction safety tips and information on appropriate jobs, on-the-job hazards as well as information to help in career choices.