OSHA Making Surprise 'Swept Up in Safety' Visits in South
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hopes to combat a rise in construction-related fatalities by conducting unannounced "Swept Up in Safety Weeks" once each quarter in 2007. Enforcement efforts are focused on construction sites in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
The OSHA initiative aims to identify and fix safety hazards and reduce exposure to the four leading causes of employee fatalities in the Southeast: falling, being “struck-by” objects and vehicles, getting crushed and being electrocuted.
OSHA compliance officers conduct immediate inspections of sites where they observe safety hazards such as unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, improper trenches and other construction hazards.
"OSHA's goal is to raise awareness about the safety hazards that lead to employee deaths," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta.
The program also promotes safety through positive reinforcement. When officers see conditions that are "in compliance," they commend the employers to encourage continued safe practices.
Previous "Swept Up in Safety Weeks” were held in December 2006 and March 2007. In December, 523 inspections yielded 1,163 violations, with 1,008 of them being designated as “serious.” More infractions were found in March, with 651 inspections resulting in 1,506 “serious” violations. Data from a “Swept Up” week last month is not yet available.
Initial statistics indicate that the regional effort is having a positive effect. There were 87 construction-related fatalities in the region during the first half of this year, down from 103 during the same six-month period of 2006.
NAHB has been working closely with OSHA to provide the residential construction industry with information, guidance and access to training resources to help protect employee health and safety. The NAHB-OSHA Alliance was renewed at a ceremony during NAHB’s spring board of directors meeting in early June.
A variety of resources are available from NAHB to help employers implement safety programs, comply with OSHA standards and provide safety training for their employees. These include the best-selling “NAHB-OSHA Jobsite Safety Handbook, English-Spanish” and the newly-released “Home Builders’ Safety Program.” To see the full selection of safety resources, go to www.BuilderBooks.com/Safety.
OSHA has several special-emphasis programs to address safety and health hazards, including separate outreach, education and training components that encourage employers and employees to visit the agency's Web site or contact an OSHA office.
For more information, e-mail Rob Matuga at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8507.
Prevent Construction-Related Falls
The “Fall Protection Video,” available through BuilderBooks.com, can be used to train workers — in both English and Spanish — how to safely perform some of the most hazardous jobs in home building.
The video demonstrates safe work practices and equipment use that meet OSHA’s requirements.
To view or purchase this DVD online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.