One of the most significant concerns for employees in any workplace is the possibility of injury, with falls being one of the most common. Suffering from a workplace accident can be hard for employers and a terrible event for any worker. This is why OSHA announced on May 1, 2023, that it would initiate a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls in the workplace.
This program emphasizes the need to reduce injuries and fatalities related to falls. There will be a particular focus on industries that require employees to work at heights. It is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows 5,190 fatal workplace injuries occurred due to falls in 2021. Of these, 13% were caused by falls from elevators.
The program launched at the same time as the 10th National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction (May 1–5). It establishes guidelines for inspecting fall risks in the workplace. In addition, the program allows OSHA officers to open inspections for workplaces with great heights.
Preventing fall incidents in the workplace
OSHA has some general guidelines available to prevent fall injuries. This includes providing fall protection at four feet or higher for general industry and construction workplaces. Shipyards must implement safeguards at elevations of five feet or higher. For construction operations, six feet and over is the required height, and for longshoring operations, it’s eight feet.
- Every hole a worker could walk through on the floor must be guarded.
- Guardrails need to be around every elevated platform or runway.
- If applicable, other fall protections—such as lines, harnesses and safety nets—are required.