July 13, 2016
PHILADELPHIA – An alarming series of tragic – and preventable – incidents in the greater Philadelphia area is prompting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to call on the region’s construction companies to ensure that their employees have and use proper equipment when required to protect them from work-related falls.
On July 7, 2016, 37-year-old roofing worker Roy Chacon died after he fell 25 feet to the ground at a Haverford worksite. His death was the latest of five incidents since June 13, 2016, that resulted in the death or injury of workers without proper fall protection.
“With basic fall protection in place, these employers could have prevented these tragedies. Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the deceased worker and with those who must learn to cope with permanent disabilities because their employers failed to ensure a safe workplace,” said OSHA Philadelphia Area Office Director Nicholas DeJesse. “Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and the use of proper fall protection can be the difference between death and workers going home to their families. We at OSHA cannot – and will not – tolerate employers who jeopardize worker safety.”
OSHA’s Philadelphia Area Office has conducted 129 inspections related to worker falls in the construction industry since Oct. 1, 2015. The agency found falls accounted for 40 percent of all fatalities investigated by the office.
In addition to raising awareness of the importance of fall protection, OSHA, the City of Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspections and the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health have announced a grassroots safety awareness campaign called “Grassroots Injury-Illness Prevention.” Launching this month, GRIIP will bring together employers, workers, labor union and other workplace safety advocates for a series of forums seeking a collaborative approach to address construction site health and safety issues.
There are several ways to protect workers from falls including guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall arrest systems, including properly anchored body harnesses and lanyards; and through proper safe work practices and training. For more information on fall protection, visit OSHA’s Stop Falls online resource or contact the Philadelphia Area Office at 215-597-4955.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.