OSHA emphasizes program to prevent workplace falls

OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker signs a National Emphasis Porgram on workplace falls. (Photo: US Department of Labor)

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are starting a National Emphasis Program to protect workers by preventing falls, the leading cause of fatalities in the workplace.

OSHA said workplace falls are the most frequently cited violation in construction industry inspections and of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in 2021, 680 (or 13%) were associated with falls from elevations, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA enforcement history.

“This national emphasis program aligns all of OSHA’s fall protection resources to combat one of the most preventable and significant causes of workplace fatalities,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker.

The program will focus on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in all industries by establishing guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards, in addition to allowing OSHA safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights.

The program will also have an outreach component to educate employers about effective ways to keep their workers safe.

If an OSHA compliance officer determines an inspection is not necessary after observing a jobsite, they will provide outreach on fall protection and leave the site.

OSHA timed the emphasis program on workplace falls to line up with the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction and the construction industry’s Safety Week.

“Working together, OSHA and employers in all industries can make lasting changes to improve worker safety and save lives,” Parker said.

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