Volume No. 51
By Bob Kowalski, Director of OSHA’s Bridgeport Area Office
When asked, what is the most frequent cause of injuries and
deaths in the workplace, falls from an elevation are at the top of the list.
From October 1, 2006, through September 30, 2007, in Southern Connecticut, forty
percent of all inspections had fall related issues. In more than one hundred of
these investigations/inspections, the exposed workers either died or sustained a
severe injury. To address this hazard, the U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA has
implemented two Emphasis Programs, a Fall Protection Emphasis Program and
a Residential Construction Emphasis Program.
Fall Protection Emphasis Program:
In the construction industry, falls from elevation cause more fatal injuries
than any other accident event type. In general industry, falls from elevation
are also a major cause of serious and fatal injuries. According to the 2002
National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, published by the U.S. Department
of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 634 fatalities in 2002
resulting from falls to a lower level, accounting for 11 percent of all fatal
injuries in workplaces nationwide. While the predominant fatal falls were from
or through roofs, from ladders and falls from scaffolds, other common work
surfaces from which fatal falls occurred included: stairways, opensided floors,
stacked materials, building girders or other structural steel, and nonmoving
In construction, fall exposures often occur when employees
are working within or on incomplete structures in the process of being built, or
from scaffolds, aerial lifts, ladders and other work surfaces that are
frequently moved or altered during the course of construction.
In general industry, employee exposures to fall hazards often
occur when employees work on open-sided floors or platforms, or when they
use portable ladders or aerial lifts. Fall hazards in general industry are
especially common when employees are performing maintenance activities which
require that they work on roof mounted equipment, or when they climb up onto the
equipment being maintained. Employee exposures to fall hazards in general
industry during maintenance operations typically involve brief, but reoccurring
exposures, which usually can be anticipated and prevented by employers.
Residential Construction Emphasis Program:
In Connecticut, as elsewhere in the country, employers working on residential
construction sites are often small employers with a frequent turnover of
employees who have not been adequately trained in safety. The employer may have
the same group of workers for a short period of time, but for the most part, the
work force is transient. The reasons vary, but it is our observation that
employees leave their employer because they find work elsewhere at a greater
rate of pay, leave to begin their own companies or in the worse case, they are
injured. With the ready availability of certification without a safety and
health training component and the transient work force, the need for an
effective safety and health outreach and enforcement program is paramount.
Having identified the hazard, the methodology that is
employed to address this hazard is two fold: outreach and enforcement.
The Federal Offices (Hartford and Bridgeport), in cooperation
with CONN-OSHA, conduct numerous training sessions on fall protection. These
sessions are part of the Alliance programs that have been established with many
organizations, groups and employers around Connecticut. Fall protection is a
module in both the General Industry and Construction Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office hour courses.
Additionally, many small employers have sought the assistance of the
Consultation Services offered by CONN-OSHA. Participation in these activities is
free. Contact information and details about the program are listed below.
On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program
CONN-OSHA’s consulting services are tailored to match
employers needs in both the private and public sectors. For more information
call 860-263-6900, or access our web site at
http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/osha/consulti.htm You may also write to the
address listed below. The request will be assigned to a safety consultant or an
occupational hygienist. This person will contact you to discuss your needs and
to schedule an on-site visit. Our consultation staff can help you with concerns
such as health & safety training and education, fall protection, ergonomic
evaluations, indoor air quality issues, and job hazard analyses. And don’t
forget, these services are free.
Compliance Officers are required to address observed
instances where workers are exposed to fall hazards. The Compliance Officer will
contact the local OSHA office and inform a supervisor of the condition. Once the
office is notified, the Compliance Office will be instructed to open an
enforcement inspection. The other common reason for opening an inspection is the
receipt of a complaint involving a fall related issue.
The dynamics of a fall can be misleading. Many individuals
believe that a fall from a great distance is more dangerous than a fall from a
shorter distance. In fact, most fatalities and serious injuries are sustained
from falls of less than 12 feet. In a majority of cases, when an individual
falls a short distance, the body doesn’t have time to rotate and the individual
sustains an injury to the back of the head or neck.
Protecting yourself from a fall at work takes very little
effort. However, every week in Connecticut workers are injured in a fall related
accident. Take the time, do it right.
INVESTIGATION: An engineer falls to his death
At approximately 9:30 a.m., three engineers arrived at a publicly-owned
apartment complex to examine and measure the buildings in preparation for
writing a proposal to the city for the provision of energy conservation
engineering services. Two of the engineers worked for the general contractor
(the employer) and one worked for a lighting subcontractor. The municipal
Request for Proposals described the work to be bid as comprehensive energy
management services, including capital improvements and maintenance at six
separate public housing developments.
The three engineers were accompanied by a maintenance person
who was employed by the housing development. His job was to take the group to
the various buildings as they requested. The weather was sunny, hot and clear,
and not a factor in the incident. The group had examined three buildings before
entering the building from which the victim fell. It was approximately 11 a.m.
when they started on this building. The roof was accessed by stairs to a small
penthouse. The door of the penthouse would lock from the outside, so a clipboard
was used to keep the door ajar. Each building was a modified L-shape, and the
roofs of several buildings were attached. Some areas of the roof were narrow
with less than six feet of width for walking. There was a short stack pipe on
the roof of each building, but no ventilation or other equipment were located on
the roof. The roof was covered with standard gravel over tar and was entirely
flat to the edges.
Two of the engineers were measuring the roof with a tape
measure. The third engineer was writing down the measurements. They were working
quickly and had been on the roof only 5 to Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office minutes. As they were about to
leave, they noticed that they had not measured one section. While the other two
engineers and the maintenance person waited by the door, the victim, pulled out
the tape measure while quickly walking backwards from the door. Apparently not
aware of how close the edge of the roof was, he walked over the edge and fell.
The distance from the penthouse door to the edge of the roof was approximately
38 feet. The victim fell approximately 29 feet to the sidewalk below. Emergency
medical services were called and arrived on the scene. The victim was
transported to a nearby local hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Recommendation #1: Employers should employ alternative controls for fall
hazards when personal fall arrest systems are neither required nor appropriate.
One option for fall hazard control that could have been
employed is the use of a "safety monitoring system". Assigning one person to
keep track of everyone and to remind people when they are close to the edge
creates both an awareness of the hazard and an established method for control.
Recommendation #2: Employers should develop, implement,
and enforce a comprehensive safety program that includes, but is not limited to,
training all employees in fall hazard recognition.
Before the start of any job, an analysis of the hazards present or anticipated
should be developed. Field employees should be encouraged to perform such an
analysis by providing forms or checklists for their use. Anticipation of hazards
will allow field employees to plan and bring with them any equipment (such as
personal protective equipment, ladders, etc.) which might be necessary to
Employee safety training should include professionals such as
engineers. There may be a presumption that professional engineers are also
skilled in identifying and controlling safety hazards. Although these employees
can be expected to be personally responsible for their activities on a project,
health and safety training reinforces the idea that no one is immune from job
hazards and provides suggestions for the control of hazards in varying
Recommendation #3: Building owners should consider the
installation of guardrails at the perimeter of flat roofs wherever possible.
Although not required by building codes at this time, a guardrail around the
perimeter of the roof would protect people on the roof from falling. Guardrails
could be decorative in appearance, yet should be able to withstand at least 200
lbs. of horizontal force in order to be protective. Many buildings do have
equipment on the roof which must be accessed by maintenance and service
personnel. Roofs have become the location of choice when this equipment is
retrofit to older buildings. Since many of these service tasks are of short
duration, the individual service providers are not likely to provide their own
fall protection. Therefore, if building owners were to install permanent
guardrails, all workers on the roof would be protected from falls.
Adapted from: Massachusetts FACE Program
Occupational Health Surveillance Project
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 6th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office8
Connecticut Fatal Occupational Falls
1992 - 2006
CT Work-Injury Fatalities
-- No data or data that does not meet
publication criteria. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor
Statistics, in cooperation with State and Federal agencies, Census of
Fatal Occupational Injuries
This graph and table show just how frequently fatal falls
occur in Connecticut Training, education, equipment maintenance and inspection
are elements of a fall protection program that will help prevent you from
becoming a fall related statistic.
Falls from elevations occur in all industries and in all
occupations. Are you hanging iron, cleaning widows or performing machine
maintenance? Many occupations expose you to the risk of a fall which often leads
CONN-OSHA Training Update
Breakfast Roundtable This discussion group meets the
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Confined Space November 13, 2007 Confined spaces pose unique problems due
to their contents and/or configuration. This class introduces you to the basic
requirements and procedures involved with permit required confined spaces as
detailed in 29 CFR 19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.146.
Machine Guarding December 4, 2007 This session can help you identify and
manage common amputation hazards associated with operating and using stationary
OSHA Recordkeeping January 11, 2008 This session will help you fill out
the OSHA Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300) accurately and
correctly. This class will be held from 9:00-12:00 noon.
Classes are free and held at 200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT in
Conference Room A/B from Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office am - 12noon, unless otherwise noted in the class
description. To register, contact John Able at (860) 263-6902 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. Pre-registration is
required. For more training information, visit
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Fatality & Casualty Reporting State & Town: CONN-OSHA
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to Federal OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA(6742)
March 01, 2017