In 1970 Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The law made employers legally responsible for providing a safe workplace for their employees. The Act also created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to oversee workplace health and safety standards and to make sure that employers abide by the law.
It is unfortunate that it requires governmental action and continued oversight to do something that should be self evident. Certainly progress has been made of the past 40+ years. But employees and employers must be vigilant. Complacency is the enemy.
This week is National Safety Stand-Down Week.According to the Department of Labor falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Today, over 40 years since Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, hundreds of workers still die each year because of falls. Almost all of these deaths are preventable with simple steps such as making sure the best protections are available to each worker and making sure that each worker is trained how to use the equipment.
Despite all of the progress that has been made over the years there are still employers out there who either because of greed or simple complacency, put workers in harms way.
The National Safety Stand-Down is an opportunity for employers and employees to stop (stand down), and take a moment to remind each other of the importance of focusing on fall hazards and fall prevention. The “stand down” can take place during a brief 15 minute training session or something more elaborate.
There are scheduled Stand-Downs in all 50 states. I would encourage all employers to take a moment, stand down and be forever vigilant with fall safety. It just might save a life.
About the author: Kevin M. Noonan, Esq. is an attorney and partner at the workers’ rights law firm, McTeague Higbee. He can be reached at 207-725-5581 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.