25K construction workers to be trained on fall protection
- Ladder supplier Werner Co. will train an estimated 25,000 U.S. construction industry personnel on fall protection practices this month through more than 200 training sessions in support of the OSHA's National Safety Stand-Down from May 7 to May 11, according to a company statement.
- During live, hands-on training sessions, participants will be prepared to face real-life jobsite safety scenarios by learning how to properly inspect a ladder and fall protection equipment, adjust safety harnesses and work with fall protection tripods. Those not able to make the live sessions will be able to log onto Werner's website, where they can enroll in a free online course, register for free onsite training and access safety information.
- Falls are the top cause of accidental jobsite construction deaths, according to OSHA, and each year the agency encourages companies to provide extra training on fall protection during the voluntary stand-down.
Since falls can be deadly and have the potential to affect a large pool of the construction workforce, OSHA enforcement officers are quick to cite and fine contractors for exposing their employees to fall hazards or not providing adequate fall protection equipment. Falls are one of the agency's "Fatal Four," along with struck-by, caught in/between and electrocution accidents, and usually top OSHA's annual list of the 10 most frequently cited standards.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Court sided with OSHA when it upheld the agency's decision to issue a willful citation – and a $49,000 fine – in the case of a fatal fall. An employee of a Georgia mechanical contractor fell to his death through a skylight opening during the course of his work. The company protested the characterization of the accident as willful, claiming that the foreman in charge hadn't been trained on proper safety procedures. The court rejected that claim, arguing that the foreman in question had shown such disregard for employee safety that it is unlikely he would have followed sound fall protection practices even if he had been aware of them.
But $49,000 is a negligible amount for a fall protection fine when compared to what the agency proposed for Great White Construction last August. OSHA cited the roofing company for fall protection violations and other hazards after an inspection at one of its Florida job sites and issued the company a fine of more than $1.5 million.
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