Each year, thousands of workers are injured and 225 die from construction-related falls. In order to provide additional tools to prevent worker injuries and fatalities in the construction industry, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is joining with OSHA and NIOSH to support a new Fall Prevention Campaign.
The national campaign to raise awareness about preventing falls in construction focuses on providing prevention information and training materials on three major types of falls: from roofs, from ladders and from scaffolds. More than 10,000 construction workers were injured as a result of falling while working from heights in the United States.
Ron Sokol, who is president and CEO of the Safety Council – Texas City, represents ASSE on the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Construction Sector that developed the campaign. Sokol noted that more – such as this new initiative – must be done to prevent falls.
“This effort took some time to develop as we ‘proof tested’ all of the information in this campaign with workers and employers – in English and Spanish, but was completed on a very aggressive schedule for a campaign of this magnitude,” Sokol said. “We want to reach as many people as possible to prevent construction workers and others from falling while at work.”
Sokol went on to note that while EHS professionals already working in construction try to provde the safest workplaces possible as well as the most appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE), this new effort will provide additional tools.
“We are trained to prevent injuries and illnesses and are used to working in all industries on all sites – from huge skyscrapers in Singapore to oil rigs to manufacturing plants to residential homes and apartment buildings. We work everywhere,” Sokol said.
To help construction workers stay safe, EHS professionals also utilize consensus standards such as Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for Personal Fall Arrest & Rescue Systems, Scaffolding Safety Requirements and Emergency Procedures for Construction and Demolition Sites. ASSE’s largest practice specialty is the Construction Practice Specialty group http://www.asse.org/practicespecialties/construction, which includes top construction safety professionals with global experience, who share best practices, produce a newsletter, meet annually and sponsor construction-related sessions at ASSE’s annual professional development conference in an ongoing effort to stay on the cutting edge of construction safety.
OSHA’s new fall prevention web page has detailed information in English and Spanish, and the Center for Construction Research and Training provides fall protection and prevention information from industry, nonprofit and academic sources. Sokol said the fall prevention literature will be translated into seven additional languages by OSHA for broader distribution, and campaign information and resources continually will be updated.
“Planning ahead, identifying risks, providing training along with the right equipment will help prevent construction worker falls,” Sokol said. “The information from the new Fall Prevention Campaign will be invaluable. We urge everyone to share it with their company, friends, co-workers, community, schools and more. We are all part of the solution to help prevent falls.”