The U.S. Department of Labor announced on May 1, 2023, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls, the leading cause of fatal workplace injuries and the most-cited violation the agency confronts within the construction industry.
The emphasis program will focus on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in all industries, the department said in a news release. The targeted enforcement program is based on historical Bureau of Labor Statistics data and OSHA enforcement history.
Data shows that of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in 2021, 680 were associated with falls from elevations, about 13% of all deaths, according to Labor Department statistics.
“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. “We’re launching this program in concert with the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction and the industry’s Safety Week. Working together, OSHA and employers in all industries can make lasting changes to improve worker safety and save lives.”
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.
To learn more about federally required fall protection, click here.
To learn more about OSHA, visit osha.gov.