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Don't Cut Corners in a Rush to Celebrate Memorial Day

By Sally Murdoch

Fall protection

Get a Safe Start to your Memorial Day

Many of us will be enjoying the beach, mountains, and parks with friends and family this Memorial Day. Whether your holiday takes you lakeside or home for grilling and chilling, remember not to rush through your workday, thereby sacrificing safety for yourself and co-workers on your way out the door.

OSHA Reminds us that Cutting Corners in Construction Costs Lives

In a May 26 article by Dane Steffenson and Melanie Stratton on the U.S. Department of Labor blog, the authors illustrate a timely reminder that workers pay the price when construction companies cut corners in safety.

In Jacksonville, Florida, in December 2007, a construction company attempted to save time and money by eliminating basic safety procedures. “The result?” Steffenson and Stratton wrote, “A six-story parking garage came crashing down, killing one worker and injuring 20 others. The worker who was killed, Willie Edwards, was only there that day because he decided to pick up an extra shift to buy Christmas presents for his children.”

The company ignored OSHA’s construction standards by removing most of the shoring from the first two floors of the parking garage; they also bypassed blueprints requiring all shoring to remain until the completion of the building. According to the blog post, “The company then knowingly permitted workers, including Edwards, to work in the building while heavy, wet concrete was poured for the top level of the parking garage without determining that the building could withstand the weight and would not collapse.”

Cutting corners may work occasionally, but when lives are at stake, it is obviously better to go the safe route. In his 2014 testimony to Congress, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, noted that some contractors actually underbid competitors by not providing fall protection for workers, giving them an unfair advantage when bidding contracts. They may win the bid, but what if they lose lives in the process?

OSHA’s Impact on Safe Workplaces is Notable

When OSHA began in 1971, almost 40 workers were killed every day on the job in the U.S. Today, the workforce has twice as many workers, yet that number has decreased 60% to 12 occupational fatalities a day. While this is statistically better, these 12 workers leave behind grieving children, spouses and parents.

If you suspect that your company may not be complying with OSHA safety standards, you can file a complaint.

What Not to Do When Trying to Leave for Memorial Day break

As well as following proper procedures, make sure you don’t fall victim to:

  • Cleaning, oiling, adjusting, or repairing equipment that is moving, electrically energized, or pressurized
  • Failing to use available personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, and hard hats
  • Failing to wear safe personal attire
  • Failing to secure or warn co-workers about hazards
  • Operating or working at unsafe speeds
  • Placing, mixing, or combining tools and materials unsafely

Finally, make sure fall protection standards are followed. Ineffective or missing fall protection has been OSHA’s most-cited violation every year since 2011, and falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Fall-related injuries and deaths are easily preventable.

How can Graphic Products help with fall protection?

Graphic Products offers many resources for promoting worker safety. Our on-site Compliance Assessment Services can review your fall protection efforts, make recommendations for improving employee safety, and offer best practices for keeping workers safe.

We also offer various products to assist with fall protection, including:

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day!

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