PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a no-notice “Construction Incident Prevention Initiative” campaign this summer to curb construction fatalities. Compliance officers will focus enforcement efforts on construction sites covered by OSHA’s Erie Area Office, which includes Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Venango and Warren counties.
The initiative is designed to identify and eliminate safety and health hazards at construction sites to prevent injuries and fatalities resulting from the four leading causes of incidents: falls, struck-by/crushing events, electrocutions and caught-in-between events. The initiative also will target health hazards involving silica, lead and hexavalent chromium, and will draw on OSHA’s national campaigns to prevent fall hazards at construction sites and heat illness among outdoor workers.
During campaign periods, OSHA sends all of its compliance officers into the field to conduct immediate inspections when unsafe working conditions involving the four leading causes of incidents are observed at construction sites. On-site outreach also is provided to encourage employers to continue good work when it is observed.
“Despite its high fatality rate, construction can be a safe occupation when employers and workers are aware of the hazards and use an effective safety and health program,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Philadelphia. “The increased presence of our compliance officers and the immediate inspections conducted in response to unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, trenches and other construction hazards should help to prevent work site fatalities.”
OSHA’s Philadelphia Region, which includes Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia, had a total of 43 fatalities in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, with 18 attributed to falls. The initiative will be conducted from June through September.
In April, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced a national campaign to provide employers and workers with lifesaving information and educational materials about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs in an effort to prevent deadly falls in the construction industry. In 2010, more than 10,000 construction workers across the United States were injured as a result of falling while working from heights, and more than 250 workers were killed. OSHA’s fall prevention campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda program. More information on fall protection standards is available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls.
OSHA also is conducting a national outreach campaign this summer to educate both employers and workers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather. Every year, thousands of workers become sick from exposure to heat, and some even die. These illnesses and death are preventable. More information on heat prevention is available at http://www.osha.gov/heat.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s Erie Area Office at (814) 833-5758 or the agency’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).