Fatal Falls and Work Injuries on the Rise, OSHA Takes Action
“Despite all the improvements in fall prevention, falls continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry,” says LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “Each year workers across the country still lose their lives in falls that are preventable.”
In 2012, almost 9,000 construction workers across the country experienced a fall that caused them to miss work and they account for more than a third of all deaths in the construction industry.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that the number of fatalities from falls in construction increased from 2011 to 2012. As part of a national fall prevention campaign, OSHA, NIOSH and the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) collaborated to create www.stopconstructionfalls.com.
The site offers toolbox talks, instructional videos and handouts, research reports, campaign news and success stories. It also gives a glaring view of how many lives are lost to construction falls each year through its Fatality Map. Each fatal fall is represented by an orange pin. “There are far too many pins on that map,” says O’Sullivan. “Proper training and the widespread use of protective measures like safety harnesses are the key to making sure workers walk away from these incidents safely.”
OSHA is looking closer at state fall protection laws to make sure they align with federal standards. Federal OSHA allows states to maintain their own OSHA programs, as long as they are “at least as effective” as federal requirements. When the requirements don’t align, contractors must decide to comply with state standards, or go above and beyond to match their safety requirements to federal standards.
Despite separation between state and federal programs, it is obvious that OSHA actions have made workplaces safer. In 1970, the year Congress passed the OSH Act,14,000 workers went to work and never came home. Today, even though the work force has grown, that figure has dropped to 4,600.
To date, Florida has not developed their own state plan. Florida employers can establish a workplace safety program that meets or exceeds the provisions provided for in Section 440.1025 of the Florida Statutes as outlined in the Florida Workman’s Compensation website and realize a 2% premium credit.
The NCCI has publicized the rules relating to this premium credit. For employers to be eligible for safety discounts, the safety program must include a written safety policy and safety rules, provisions for safety inspections, preventative maintenance, safety training, first aid, accident investigation, and necessary record keeping. Free safety consultation services and safety program resources are available as publicized by the Division of Workers’ Compensation on the Internet. See more, here
As personal injury attorneys, we see the devastation caused to the workers and their families when they are hurt on the job and/or can’t return to work. We support the efforts of Stop Construction Falls to help bring awareness to construction accidents in South Florida and reduce the risks to everyone involved.