The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a "Construction Incident Prevention Initiative" campaign this summer to curb construction fatalities. Compliance officers will focus enforcement effort on construction sites covered by OSHA's Wilmington, Del., Area Office, which includes the state of Delaware.
"Construction is a high-hazard industry, and when employers do not employ an effective safety and health program, workers are left vulnerable to serious injury and possible death," said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA's 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."
The initiative is designed to identify and eliminate safety and health hazards at construction sites and to prevent injuries and fatalities resulting from the four leading causes of incidents: falls, crushing events, electrocutions and caught-in-between events. The initiative 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 will provide on-site outreach to educate and encourage employers to continue good practices. OSHA will send its compliance officers into the field to conduct inspections when unsafe working conditions involving the four main hazards are observed at construction sites.
The initiative will be conducted during the summer months of 2014 in OSHA's Philadelphia Region, which includes Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia. This region had 111 fatalities in fiscal years 2013 and 2014, with 16 attributed to falls.
During the first week of June, tens of thousands of employers and more than 1 million workers across the country joined OSHA in safety stand-downs to focus on preventing fatalities from falls. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, with hundreds of workers dying each year and thousands more facing serious injuries. Lack of fall protection is also the most frequently cited OSHA violation, proving that these deaths are preventable when employers provide the right safety equipment and properly train workers on how to use it.
OSHA is also 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.