One sunny June morning in 2009, Hector* went to work just as he had every other morning. He climbed to the roof as usual to begin working. But this day was different. In an instant, Hector was hanging over the outside edge of the second story wall of the home the residential construction company he worked for was building.
While working on the top plate of the two-story home, Hector had lost his balance. As he stumbled, he had tried to regain his footing by stepping on a pressure block, but the block blew out and he had fallen.
Fortunately, because Hector was using fall protection he is not among the thousands of workers we remember this year on Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, 2012. He fell only inches, not two stories. He was pulled back up onto the roof by a coworker, treated with first aid for a minor cut on his leg, and returned to work.
In an effort to create more successful outcomes like Hector’s, this Workers’ Memorial Day NIOSH and its partners are announcing a new campaign to prevent falls in the construction industry. Falls are the top cause of death in construction and account for one-third of all on-the-job deaths in the industry. Each year in the U.S. over 200 construction workers are killed and over 10,000 are seriously injured by falls.
This campaign to prevent falls in construction grew out of multi-stakeholder discussions held by the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Construction Sector Council. The campaign, Safety Pays. Falls Cost. was conceived through this government-labor-management partnership, which includes NIOSH, OSHA, state government, private industry, trade associations, academia, and professional and labor organizations.
The campaign will focus on small residential construction contractors and workers and will work to prevent the three major types of fatal falls: falls from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds. We know that promoting the use of the right equipment and fall prevention practices will reduce the number of fall-related fatalities and injuries in the construction industry. As such, the campaign will focus on the need to plan ahead for safety before every job; provide the right equipment for the job; train workers to use the right equipment; and to otherwise work safely at heights. But, to make the campaign a success, we need your help!
How can you help?
Every little bit helps. We need your help to…
- Produce and distribute Campaign materials:
- Collect or create testimonial and technical videos
- Print materials such as checklists, factsheets, and posters
- Produce and distribute giveaway and promotional products
- Get the word out:
- Post information about the Campaign and link to stopconstructionfalls.com on your website and Facebook page.
- Write about the Campaign in your newsletter or in a trade publication—we have background articles prepared that you can adapt easily.
- Communicate regularly with your constituents and other groups to raise their awareness of the Campaign and to pass on the Campaign materials.
- Advertise the Campaign through paid media and/or other opportunities.
- Promote, hold, or sponsor trainings, demonstrations, or events to raise awareness.
- Assist with evaluating the effectiveness of the Campaign.
- Reach out to new partners in government, labor, and industry.
- Keep us informed about what you are doing!
We hope you will join us in this partnership as we work to make the construction industry safer.
The following sites offer more information on the campaign and prevening falls in construction.
- The Campaign website or the NIOSH Campaign site
- The Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program (for construction fall-related reports)
- The OSHA stopfalls site (to order hardcopies of the Campaign print materials)
—Christine Branche, PhD; Pietra Check, MPH; Janie Gittleman, PhD, MRP; Scott Schneider, MS, CIH; Pete Stafford
Dr. Branche is the Principal Associate Director of NIOSH and Director of the NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health.
Ms. Check is a Health Communications Specialist in the Office of the Director, NIOSH.
Dr. Gittleman is Chief, Occupational Safety, Health & Environmental Compliance for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Mr. Schneider is the Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America.
Mr. Stafford is the Executive Director of CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training.
*Pseudonym to protect the worker’s identity.