During its annual National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction, OSHA launched a new emphasis program “to reduce or eliminate workplace fall hazards associated with working at heights.” The program, administered by OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, went into effect May 1.
OSHA noted in its program instructions, “Considering that falls remain the leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries in all industries, the agency has determined that an increase in enforcement and outreach activities is warranted.”
The new emphasis program authorizes inspectors to initiate inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights. These observations may occur during the inspector’s normal work-day travel or while en route to, from, or during, other OSHA inspections.
While the new program applies to all industries under OSHA’s authority, the agency said it anticipates “most of the inspections will occur in construction because the majority of the fatal falls to lower levels each year occur on construction worksites.” As such, all OSHA inspections of construction sites will be conducted under the guidance of the new program.
For non-construction inspections, OSHA noted certain activities will fall under the new program, many of which are related to home building, remodeling, and maintenance, like:
- Roof top mechanical work/maintenance
- Arborist/tree trimming
- Gutter cleaning
- Chimney cleaning
- Window cleaning
The new emphasis program is primarily focused on locating and inspecting fall hazards. This may lead to an increase in spot or unannounced inspections when a worker is seen on a roof or ladder, for example.
Home builders, remodelers, and associated subcontractors should immediately review and reinforce their safety procedures to mitigate falls. Use resources from NAHB and OSHA to establish written policies and procedures for fall safety and enforce those policies while work is underway.
Visit NAHB’s National Safety Stand-Down page for additional resources, including safety videos covering specific tasks like roofing and ladder use.