A spate of worker deaths has prompted Cal/OSHA to target construction sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. Agency compliance officers will inspect construction sites to determine whether employers have implemented adequate safety measures.
The agency points to four recent incidents at California construction sites, all of which are under investigation:
- On May 21, a worker at a residential project in San Jose died when he fell from a three-story building.
- On May 20, a worker at a San Mateo construction project died when he tumbled nine feet from a wall, sustaining fatal head injuries.
- On May 20, a worker near the top of 22-foot rebar column at a San Diego construction site was killed when the column fell on him.
- On May 18, a construction worker was killed when the train bridge he was dismantling in downtown Riverside collapsed, crushing him.
“Construction sites present special challenges to worker safety,” said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal/OSHA. “Employers need to have strong safety programs in place and train their workers to follow procedures.”
Focus on Fall Hazards
Hazards at construction sites include open trenches and moving equipment at ground level, but elevated areas are especially dangerous, Cal/OSHA noted. Falls are the No. 1 cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry.
OSHA has designated June 2-6 as National Safety Stand-Down Week to encourage employers to talk with workers about fall hazards and prevention. Cal/OSHA has posted an industry-specific fall protection fact sheet on its website, and the agency will be participating with federal OSHA in a series of safety stand-down events at construction sites across the state to emphasize the importance of fall protection and other safety measures.
“Our goal is to raise awareness for everyone working in construction that hazards can be identified and corrected,” said acting Cal/OSHA chief Juliann Sum. “Preparation and vigilance are vital to preventing workplace fatalities.”
Fall protection – from railings on buildings to personal devices such as hooks that attach to vests – will be among the items that Cal/OSHA compliance officers will be checking during their inspections, the agency said.
Cal/OSHA’s teams also will examine trench safety, equipment safety and potential site hazards such as power lines.
If inspectors find a lack of protection or a serious hazard, they can stop work at the site until the hazards are addressed, the agency noted. Employers that fail to comply with Cal/OSHA safety regulations will be cited and ordered to correct the violations.