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Trained, But Not Safe

FALLS ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN CONSTRUCTION In 2010, there were 264 fall fatalities (255 falls to lower level) out of 774 total fatalities in construction. These deaths are preventable. – OSHA
Consider this story… Bobby was excited about getting a construction job that would allow him to finally help his mom by paying for his own clothes and costs during his senior year.  At 17 years old, he had never worked on a construction site and didn’t fully understand the reason for fall prevention.  Bobby noticed that the older workers on the site seldom used their fall protection so he just followed their lead and clipped in when it was handy or the boss was around.  His boss had stopped him several times and yelled at him to clip in “or else.”  One day “or else” happened.
Bobby was standing on scaffolding while handing concrete blocks to the mason when his foot slipped off the edge.  He woke up to a co-worker telling him to lay still and not move, which was easy to do because he couldn’t move or feel his legs or arms.   He lived, but instead of being a help to his mom, Bobby became a burden.  This happened because Bobby failed to follow the rules, his experienced co-workers failed to lead by example, and his boss failed by not holding him accountable.  When we ask the question, “Who Is responsible for safety?” we say, “Everyone is.”
OSHA requires training for fall prevention, but training is not enough to change a person’s behavior, it takes commitment from the company, supervisor, and co-workers.  When it comes to safety training, how far are you willing to take it?  If you are attending safety training it is worth your time to pay attention and follow the learned procedures.  On the other hand, if you are an experienced worker who has gotten away with not following the procedures, think about the co-workers you might be influencing.  Last, but not least, if you are a supervisor and you think that you won’t be held accountable consider Bobby’s boss.  Following the investigation his boss may find a civil suit that haunts him for the rest of his life.  Keep this in mind the next time you say, “Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
1926.503(a1926.503(a) “Training Program.”
1926.503(a)(1) The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.

by Carl Potter, CSP
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