In 1970, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure workers’ safe and healthful working conditions. The Act also created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that sets and enforces standards and provides training, outreach, education, and assistance.1 According to OSHA and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, since OSHA’s inception, worker deaths in America are down from approximately 14,000 in 1970 to 4,764 in 2020. This significant decline is magnified by the doubling of the U.S. workforce during this same period. Yes, there have been significant technological safety advancements over the last 50 years; but I think we will all agree that technology not applied and enforced is ineffective. OSHA’s standards and the authority to enforce those standards have contributed to ensuring safe and healthful working conditions across the American landscape over the past 50 years.
In 2012, OSHA implemented its annual National Fall Protection Stand-Down to raise awareness of fall hazards on construction worksites. In the construction industry, falls are considered one of OSHA’s Fatal Four, also including struck-by, electrocution, and caught in-between. In 2020, falls from elevation were the leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 351 of the year’s 1,008 construction fatalities.1
As HSE Director for BE&K Building Group, my day-to-day job is filled with ensuring all safety standards developed by BE&K, OSHA, and our clients are followed and enforced to keep people safe. Accountability is an important part of the enforcement process. We all need to be accountable in our work, especially when it comes to the safety and welfare of one another. Accountability is a key reason that BE&K proactively partners with OSHA on our jobsites. OSHA’s authority to oversee the safety on our jobsites is welcomed and invited at BE&K. We believe our approach to engaging OSHA vs. avoiding OSHA has been a strong contributing factor to BE&K’s overall safety performance in recent years.
National Fall Protection Stand-Down Week provides one of the best opportunities we have all year to partner with OSHA. Our jobsites across the nation will have daily stand-downs and various training focusing on key fall protection standards and related enforcement. These standards are always meant for the good and well-being of everyone that works on our jobsites. At the end of each day, we want everyone on our projects to go home safe and in the same condition that they arrived to work that morning.
Please join BE&K in recognizing and actively engaging in OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Throughout the week, we will be highlighting various activities from our jobsites related to the Stand-Down on our social media feeds. If this week’s efforts result in saving one life or preventing one life-altering injury, it will have been worth the effort. #StandDown4Safety
Safety is the Foundation We Build On because…It’s All About People!