OSHA has started a national emphasis program (NEP) addressing the leading cause of fatal workplace injuries and the violation the agency cites most frequently during construction industry inspections: Falls.
The program was announced May 1 and it will focus on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in any industry.
This NEP was launched based on historical U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data and OSHA enforcement history.
BLS data shows that 680 of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in 2021 were associated with falls from heights. That comes out to about 13% of all deaths.
The program establishes guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards and allows OSHA compliance officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights.
There’s an outreach component to the program, as well. That will focus on educating employers about effective ways to keep their workers safe when working at heights. If an OSHA compliance officer determines an inspection isn’t necessary after entering a worksite, they’ll provide outreach on fall protection before leaving the site.