Finding Hazards and Offering Solutions Carri Tucker July 28, 2016
As summer temperatures soar so do the painting and roofing contractors, scaling their 30' and 40' ladders, climbing onto our scorching hot asphalt shingles, clinging to scalding dormers and gutters as they carefully traverse our rooftops, carefully making sure not to dislodge a single shingle. Heat exhaustion and heated home owners aside, these skilled contractors put their lives at risk daily, all in the name of their trade, all in the name of maintaining our precious real estate.
According to OSHA, construction related falls made-up 40% of all occupational fatalities in 2014. Falls, slips, and trips increased 10 percent in 2014 from 2013, driven by an increase in falls to 647 in 2014 from 595 in 2013 (BLS 2014). It appears falls have already constituted one third of all BLS reported fatalities for the first and second quarter 2016, and that number doesn't include the busy construction months of July and August. It's easy to argue that our multi-year upward trend in construction related fall fatalities is going to continue to increase.
In response OSHA inspectors are out in full throttle, thumping contractors for improper or a complete lack of fall protection. After all, these are needless, preventable injuries, but for whatever reason, are on the rise. OSHA fines, as you've probably heard, are slated to increase as much as 78% as of August 1, 2016. My adage of "hit em' where it hurts, in the wallet," meaning some employers won't pay attention to OSHA fines until it costs them significantly certainly applies.
I'm so thankful that I never have to worry about my employer falling into that category. Working for O'Brien's Safety Services, L.L.C., an Ohio based confined space rescue and safety consulting company, employee safety and fall protection are top priority so much so that we recently formed a sales relationship with Malta Dynamics which offers one of the most innovative, practical pieces of fall protection equipment I've come across in years. Malta's mobile fall protection solution the Grabber won the 2016 Industrial Safety and Hygiene News (ISHN) reader's choice award. One of O'Brien's services is to conduct 'pre-OSHA' safety walk through audits assisting clients in identifying and eliminating workplace hazards. It's commonplace for us to identify fall protection violations that our clients are anxious to resolve, however struggle with issues such as guardrail impracticality, man-lift accessibility or rental availability, and constantly changing construction jobsites. It's reassuring to not only identify the fall protection hazards I see in my audits, but now to be able to say, "I have a straightforward solution for that."
Carri Tucker is a Sr. EHS Specialist with Marietta, OH based O'Brien's Safety Services, L.L.C. www.obrienssafetyservices.com