This just in from OSHA QUIK-TAKES bi-monthly newsletter:  

OSHA has cited Republic Steel for 24 safety violations carrying fines of $1,138,500. The Canton, Ohio-based steel manufacturing plant was inspected after OSHA received a formal complaint alleging inadequate fall protection and other unsafe practices that exposed workers to various hazards in the plant’s melt shop. OSHA discovered during the inspection that two workers had been seriously injured from falls in 2012. The company has a history of failing to address fall hazards and will remain in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.  

It’s a fact: falls from elevations account for one-third of all construction deaths.  Because of the nature of construction workers, it is not surprising that their job is classified as high-risk.  Everyone has a critical role to play in protecting construction workers.  Beginning with architects who design the building, to equipment designers, and the construction company itself, owe it to their employees to plan ahead to get the job done safely.  They must train all employees in ways to protect themselves with the proper personal protective equipment, how to maintain it, and provide them with the correct equipment to do the most efficient job. 

It is important that workers who speak different languages are trained to understand how important working safely is.  Materials should be provided in English and Spanish on ladder, scaffold, construction falls, and personal fall arrest systems.  Special training should be given to ensure all workers comprehend and follow the precise instructions from the manuals or brochures. 

It may be surprising to some, but many serious injuries are caused by falls from as little as six feet of height.  Requirements from OSHA are that anyone exposed to six feet or more falls need either a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall protection.  

Hazards in the construction industry include: 

  •          Unguarded protruding steel rebars;
  •          Improper scaffolding construction;
  •          Misuse of portable ladders;
  •          Unprotected sides or open floor holes.

After the building site is surveyed, the first thing to be done once construction has started, is to cover all floor openings and sides of building.  The largest percent of workers reportedly suffering fatal falls came from falls from ladders.  Others were falls from roof, scaffolds, non-moving vehicles/lifts, through openings, through roof surface, and falling to lower levels. 

Laws that pertain to the safety of workers are as important as laws requiring compliance in all other topics.  The people that construct our buildings and homes have the right to work safely and confidently, using their talents to their full extent.  It is the obligation of the company to see that they are kept safe every day.  If employers are responsible they can avoid expensive settlements and fines

Source: OSHA