Public Health Professional

Martin Lloyd Sanders | Occupational Safety | Fall Prevention Campaign

Martin Lloyd Sanders | Occupational Safety | Fall Prevention Campaign

According to the latest data on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website, there were a total of 384 fatalities caused by falls in construction sites in 2016. Martin Lloyd Sanders, former Chief Scientist of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS), notes that these accidents could have been prevented; or the chances of these occurring reduced.

In total, there were 991 deaths in construction in 2016; of these, the leading causes were falls, struck by object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between. Data further showed that out of the 4,693 work-related deaths in the private sector, 21.1% occurred in construction; and as mentioned, falls were the leading cause of death. To illustrate, fall fatalities accounted for 38.7% of the total construction-related deaths in 2016, followed by struck by object at 9.4%, electrocutions at 8.3%, and caught-in/between at 7.3%. Martin Lloyd Sanders shares that one can see the huge gaps between fall fatalities and other causes of deaths, which clearly shows that there is still much to be improved in construction site safety.

Since 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Occupational Research Agenda-Construction Sector, has been actively raising awareness on common fall hazards in the construction industry. Through their Fall Prevention Campaign, they are educating both workers and employers about safety hazards and what they can do to eliminate these at the construction site, thereby reducing the risk of injuries and fatalities caused by falls.

Fall Prevention Campaign

In a nutshell, the Fall Prevention Campaign educates all concerned in three specific areas: Plan, Provide, and Train. Martin Lloyd Sanders shares that the Plan aspect of the campaign urges employers to carefully plan their project to ensure the safety of their workers. This plan should include all the steps needed to complete the project, how these steps should be taken, and what tools and equipment are critical to, not only the completion of each step or phase, but more importantly, critical to the safety of the workers.

For the Provide aspect, this basically entails providing all the necessary tools and equipment to the workers, from ladders and scaffolds to protective gear. Each tool and equipment must be utilized according to their specific use only.

Finally for the Train part, Martin Lloyd Sanders shares that both employers and workers must undergo necessary trainings on the safe usage of each tool and equipment, as well as safety practices in construction. Training should also involve educating workers and everyone involved in the project about recognizing safety hazards and addressing these in a timely manner.

Part of the Fall Prevention Campaign is the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Employers are encouraged to hold a Safety Stand-Down event wherein they will discuss directly with their workers the importance of safety in construction. This year, a Safety Stand-Down event will be held in conjunction with the North American Occupational Safety and Health week, which, Martin Lloyd Sanders shares, will take place from the 7th up to the 11th of May this year.