The number of work-related ladder falls, fatal and non-fatal, in 2011 indicate there is a need for innovative solutions to be developed, the NIOSH team concluded.

After Four Deaths, Cal/OSHA Launches Construction Inspection Blitz

The fatalities occurred on construction sites May 18-21 and are still under investigation. The goal of the inspections is to "raise awareness for everyone working in construction that hazards can be identified and corrected," said acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.

Cal/OSHA has begun stepped-up inspections at construction sites in the San Francisco Bay Area after four fatal accidents happened during a span of four days. Inspectors are deployed to visit sites in the coming weeks to determine whether adequate measures are being taken to identify safety hazards and prevent injuries, according to the agency's May 27 announcement of the initiative.

"Construction sites present special challenges to worker safety," said Christine Baker, director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, which is Cal/OSHA's parent agency. "Employers need to have strong safety programs in place and train their workers to follow procedures."

"Our goal is to raise awareness for everyone working in construction that hazards can be identified and corrected. Preparation and vigilance are vital to preventing workplace fatalities," said Acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.

The four deaths were:

  • On May 18, a construction worker was killed when the train bridge he was dismantling in downtown Riverside collapsed, crushing him.
  • On May 20, a worker on a San Mateo project fell 9 feet from a wall and sustained fatal head injuries.
  • On May 20 in San Diego, a worker near the top of a 22-foot rebar column died when the column fell on him.
  • On May 21, a worker at a residential project in San Jose fell to his death from a three-story building.

Federal OSHA's National Safety Stand-Down is taking place June 2-6, and Cal/OSHA will be participating with federal OSHA in a series of sand-down events at construction sites across the state, as well.

The inspectors will check fall protection equipment, as well as trench safety, equipment safety, and power lines. If inspectors find a lack of protection or a serious hazard, they can stop work at that site until the hazards are abated.

A new factsheet is available on Cal/OSHA's website to help construction employers eliminate or reduce fall hazards.

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