OSHA Focuses on Fall Hazards

OSHA wants to do something about the fact that one-third of all fatal workplace accidents taking place in the southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi) last year were caused by falls.

Last year, one third of all fatal workplace accidents taking place in the southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi) were caused by falls. More than two-thirds of those fatal falls (70 percent) took place on construction sites.

In an effort to reduce the toll fatal falls take on employees, their families and employers, the Mobile area office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will conduct a special southeastern regional emphasis program on fall hazards.

OSHA compliance officers across the country are authorized to stop at any site where fall hazards might be present. The compliance officers in the Mobile office will take the effort a step further, targeting scaffolding and roofing activities to ensure that a "competent person" is on site and has taken the necessary training courses to qualify.

"Not only are we going to focus our resources on fall hazards in roofing and scaffolding, but we plan to spend considerable time and effort ensuring that the competent person at these sites has been trained and is prepared to ensure that workers are properly protected from falls," says Lana Graves, OSHA's Mobile area director.

Last year, OSHA's southeastern area offices investigated 83 fatalities involving falls, 58 of which were in the construction industry.

"Not only are we going to focus our resources on fall hazards in roofing and scaffolding, but we plan to spend considerable time and effort ensuring that the competent person at these sites has been trained and is prepared to ensure that workers are properly protected from falls," she adds.

As part of the concentration on the on-site competent person, OSHA will provide technical assistance to the Associated General Contractors, which will conduct competent person training in Mobile on June 26, 2002.

According to OSHA, a competent person is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards on the work site. He or she must have the authority to take prompt action to eliminate hazards. The competent person's duties vary, depending on the type of work being done.

With respect to scaffolding, the competent person must ensure that scaffolds are inspected before each work shift, are erected and disassembled properly, and are equipped with required safeguards. He or she must also assure that employees are trained to recognize hazards associated with working from a scaffold

Competent persons in roofing must be able to identify hazardous conditions and appropriate applications for a fall protection system. They must also determine that all workers have been trained on fall protection and assembly and disassembly of fall-arrest systems and that a fall protection plan is in effect.

For more information about requirements for fall protection and roofing and scaffolding safety, visit OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov, or contact the Mobile Area Office at (251) 441-6131.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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