Yesterday, the California Department of Industrial Relations issued a News Release, Newsline No. 2014-48, confirming that Cal/OSHA will be "focusing on safety compliance at construction sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, following a recent series of fatal accidents in the region." Cal/OSHA investigators are being deployed to inspect construction worksites throughout the coming weeks to determine whether employers have taken adequate measures to identify safety hazards and prevent injuries to workers.
Fall protection will be among the items Cal/OSHA inspectors will be checking during the inspections, including railings on buildings and personal safety equipment. Its teams will also examine trench safety, equipment safety and potential site hazards such as power lines. Employers are warned that, if Cal/OSHA inspectors find a lack of protection or a serious hazard, the employer will be ordered to correct the violations and work at the construction site will be stopped until the hazards are abated. Employers who fail to comply with Cal/OSHA safety regulations should also expect to be cited.
Cal/OSHA identified four recent incidents in California that illustrate the safety hazards on construction sites:
- On May 18, a construction worker was killed when the train bridge he was dismantling in downtown Riverside collapsed, crushing the worker
- On May 20, a worker on a San Mateo project tumbled 9 feet from a wall sustaining fatal head injuries
- On May 20, in San Diego, a worker near the top of 22-foot rebar column was killed 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
Cal/OSHA reportedly is currently investigating all four incidents.
It reminds everyone that falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers and encourages everyone to take part in National Safety Stand-Down week -- June 2-6. The Stand-Down should be used by employers as an opportunity to talk with workers about fall hazards and prevention and to emphasize the importance of fall protection and other safety measures at construction sites.