OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign Targets Preventable Accidents
Falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs continue to be the leading cause of death in construction, accounting for one-third of all construction fatalities. The saddest part of this statistic is almost all of these deaths are preventable.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Fall Prevention Campaign promotes awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of falls. Three simple steps are at the center of these educational efforts: Plan, Provide and Train.
PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
Working at heights six feet or more off the ground requires planning to ensure the best way to complete the job safely. Determine the tasks involved and which safety equipment to have on site.
Employers should include sufficient safety equipment in the cost of estimating a job. For example, a roofing job could incur hazards such as the slope of the roof surface, the presence of skylights or overhanging branches.
PROVIDE the right equipment
In addition to standard equipment such as the correct types of scaffolds and ladders, a fall protection equipment list may include personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). These systems provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to an anchor.
Employers or foremen should make sure the PFAS fits properly for each worker and regularly inspect all fall protection equipment to ensure it is in good working condition and safe for use.
TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely
Helping workers understand proper equipment set-up goes a long way toward preventing falls. It is the employer’s responsibility to train workers on the safe use of the specific equipment they will be using. This includes hazard recognition training as well as the safe use of equipment and safety systems.
Study Looks at Effectiveness of Corporate Wellness Programs
The American Heart Association is teaming up with global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) to conduct first-of-its-kind research into the effectiveness of workplace wellness programs. The study will look at aggregate data collected from companies enrolled in the KKR Wellness Works program.
“Our goal is to support individuals in improving their wellness, thereby building stronger communities and companies,” explains George Roberts, KKR’s co-CEO. “Sharing what we learn will allow other companies to implement more effective workplace wellness programs.”
Wellness Works provides a best practice model for companies to follow. Companies provide incentives of at least $250 for employees to complete certain wellness requirements, including an annual biometric screening. Resources then include access to health coaching, incentives tied to making lifestyle changes, and tools for tracking and reducing health risks.
With an estimated 25 to 30 percent of corporate medical costs spent on employees with major risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, an increasing number of employers are looking into the economic feasibility of sponsoring wellness programs.
The most common risk factors include tobacco use, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and lack of physical activity. Existing research indicates positive change comes when employers provide information on wellness and lifestyle change.
The KKR study gives employees access to educational tools and support resources, including a “My Life Check” wellness portal, to help them improve or maintain their overall health. These tools and resources will supplement efforts already in place, with the goal of generating a greater benefit for employees.
KKR is hoping the program engages employees, increases participating rates, changes behaviors and eventually reduces health risks. For more information, visit www.kkrwellnessworks.com.
U.S. Work Fatality Rate Inches Lower
American workers showed a slight improvement in the rate of fatalities during 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
The rate of fatal work injuries for U.S. workers was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down slightly from the 3.6 rate in 2010. The study shows 4,609 deaths from work-related injuries in 2011, compared to 4,690 the previous year.
“It is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement. “We will continue to collaborate with employers, workers, labor leaders, and safety and health professionals to ensure that every American who clocks in for a shift can make it home safe and sound at the end of the day.”
An average of 13 workers lose their lives on the job every day. “It’s clear we must maintain our commitment to ensuring our workplaces are safer and healthier for every American,” the secretary added. “We know how to prevent these fatalities, and all employers must take the steps necessary to keep their workers safe.”