For Immediate Release - May 17, 2013

Department of Labor Standards recognized for worker safety initiative

Agency re-launches annual effort targeting the leading cause of death at residential construction sites

BOSTON – May 17, 2013 – A 2012 campaign led by Massachusetts’ Department of Labor Standards (DLS) aimed at fighting the leading cause of death for Massachusetts construction workers was recognized with an award from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Office of Small Business Assistance last month.

According to a Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) report, falls from construction sites to a lower level claimed the lives of more Massachusetts construction workers than any other type of incident from 2007-2011. More than half of those who lost their lives after a fall were employed on residential construction sites. The campaign aims to both provide small contractors with the training and resources needed to perform jobs safely and raise general public awareness of the dangers of construction site falls.

“I’m proud of the Department of Labor Standards’ hard work on this important initiative,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein. “Falls on construction sites are deadly but preventable. We can save lives by educating Massachusetts’ contractors about how to protect their employees by reducing the number of falls.”

The On-site Consultation Achievement Recognition, or OSCAR, is awarded to state programs that have made significant achievements in promoting worker health and safety. Massachusetts won this recognition, given by the Federal Department of Labor, in April 2013, for its 2012 Fall Prevention Outreach program. The program, done in partnership with the Andover Federal OSHA office, printed and distributed 5,000 flyers to licensed roofing contractors, trade associations, supply houses and building inspectors in Middlesex and Essex counties. Consultants and compliance officers visited hundreds of worksites and held five seminars attended by nearly 350 workers and employers. These seminars included demonstrations on fall protection devices and techniques, presentations on OSHA's fall protection requirements and sessions for participants to ask specific questions of the safety and health field experts. Due to the success of this program, in the spring of 2013, the Consultation Program partnered with the Springfield and Andover OSHA offices to re-launch the program and expand the outreach area.

DPH, which tracks work-related deaths in the state, also recognized the dangers associated with working from heights and partnered with the Consultation Program for the 2013 Fall Prevention Outreach program. Both DLS and DPH launched the 2013 program last month.

“As the weather warms and construction jobs pick up in 2013, we will once again embark on an aggressive campaign aimed at preventing falls at residential construction sites,” said DLS Director Heather Rowe. “I am proud of the recognition we have received and grateful to work with such committed partners.

As part of the new 2013 campaign:

  • DPH released a set of educational materials for contractors on the topics of ladder safety, scaffold safety, personal fall arrest systems, and myths and facts about falls in residential construction. These brochures were developed in conjunction with a group of government, labor, insurance industry, community and academic stakeholders, and with input from Massachusetts construction contractors. Educational materials are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
  • DLS will offer a series of six free educational seminars in Pittsfield, Springfield, Lawrence, Gardner, Lynn and Framingham. The seminars were lead by experienced instructors who will explain nationally accepted standards to prevent falls in the construction industry and present practical solutions to common situations encountered on work sites.
  • Regional transit authorities across the state, including the MBTA, GATRA, BAT, PVTA, FRTA and NRTA, have also teamed up to help promote the campaign on local transit and the Department of Transportation is airing the ads on its digital billboards across the Commonwealth.
  • The Department of Public Safety worked with DPH on a mass dissemination of its fall prevention and campaign materials to over 28,000 licensed MA contractors, city inspectional service offices, vocational schools and community health centers.

The campaign began in April and will run through June.

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