The U.S. Department of Labor announced that OSHA has begun a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to identify and to reduce hazards which are causing or likely to cause serious injuries and fatalities from falls while working at heights. Considering that falls remain the leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries in all industries, and the violation the agency cites most frequently in construction industry inspections, the agency has determined that an increase in enforcement and outreach activities is warranted.
The targeted enforcement program is based on historical Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data and OSHA enforcement history. BLS data shows that of the 5,190 total fatalities in 2021, 680 were associated with falls from elevation, about 13 percent of all deaths. “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 Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, Doug Parker.
The program establishes guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards and allows OSHA compliance safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights. An outreach component of the program will focus on educating employers about effective ways to keep their workers safe. If a compliance officer determines an inspection is not necessary after entering a worksite and observing work activities, they will provide outreach on fall protection and leave the site.
“MCAA supports the focus on improving fall prevention, including the outreach and education to prevent falls across all industries.” said Raffi Elchemmas, MCAA Executive Director of Safety, Health, and Risk Management. MCAA has several resources on working at heights, including videos and programs on Aerial Lift Safety, Fall Prevention and Protection, Ladder Safety, and Scaffold Safety.