MIOSHA Tells Construction Employers "The Falls Must Stop!"; MIOSHA Launches Campaign to Reduce or Eliminate Construction Accidents Caused by Falls

Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

SEPTEMBER 22, 2005 - The construction industry is one of the most hazardous industries in Michigan- and falls are the single leading cause of accidents and fatalities in this industry. Only about four percent of Michigan's workforce is employed in construction- however, construction fatalities account for more than 40 percent of all fatal workplace accidents.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is launching an extensive awareness campaign to alert construction employers that they must provide appropriate fall protection and training for employees exposed to fall hazards. The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG).

"This year in Michigan, we've had nine fatal accidents in construction caused by falls. This is simply not acceptable," said DLEG Director David C. Hollister. "We know that fatal accidents can be greatly reduced when employers follow the rules and apply effective worker safeguards on every jobsite where fall hazards are present."

Fatal Accidents Caused by Falls in 2005:

  • September 16 - Randy VanZalen Builders - Oakfield Township - Randy VanZalen
    The victim was working on a board 15 feet above the ground that collapsed.
  • August 19 - Nomad Construction, Inc. - Sault Ste. Marie - Edward Jacques - Age 69
    The victim was standing on a folding chair; the chair collapsed and he struck his head.
  • August 10 - Ripke Construction - Grayling - Kristopher Vogt - Age 28
    Employees were erecting wooden trusses that collapsed, causing the victim to fall 14 feet.
  • July 19 - Shoreline Roofing & Construction - Gibraltar - James Campbell - Age 41
    The victim was working on a pitched roof.  He slipped, falling approximately 19 feet.
  • June 6 - Roofcon, Inc. - Auburn Hills - Ramiro Garcia - Age 29
    Two workers were cutting holes in a roof deck.  The deck broke and the victim fell 20 feet. 
  • May 31 - Acker Steel Erectors - Saline - Greg Creech - Age 32
    The victim was traveling on a roof purlin with no fall protection, lost his balance and fell 25 feet.
  • May 11 - Exquisite Homes of Michigan, Inc. - Henry Delgado - Age 38
    A gust of wind blew over the ladder the victim was working from.  He fell about 30 feet.
  • February 12 - Brillante Masonry - Vincenzo Barretta - Age 63
    Two employees were using a tubular welded scaffold.  The victim fell 10 feet off the scaffold.
  • January 18 - V.I.J. Roofing & Remodeling, L.L.C. - Joe Kennedy - Age 33
    Three workers were installing roof shingles on a house.  The victim fell approximately 40 feet.

MIOSHA Fall Protection Rules

MIOSHA has investigated 36 fatalities over the four-year period of 2001 through 2004 related to falls at construction worksites. Because of the high rate of injuries and fatalities related to fall hazards, reducing these hazards is a focus in the MIOSHA five-year Strategic Plan. 

In addition, the MIOSHA Construction Safety and Health Division (CSHD) is targeting more resources to conduct inspections in residential construction this construction season. Fall hazards are prevalent in residential construction, which is evident upon review of accident and fatality investigation activity. This residential construction focus includes single-family dwellings and multiple family units (e.g., duplexes, condominiums, apartment buildings).

"Protecting workers must be a priority for employers. Incidents caused by falls can be anticipated and prevented," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "MIOSHA rules require construction employers to implement accident prevention programs that address the variety of hazards they face."

Construction Part 45, Fall Protection, delineates requirements for training and fall protection, including:  guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, alternative fall protection measures, and/or fall protection plans. 

An Accident Prevention Program (APP) that includes supervisor and employee training can also help to prevent injuries and death and is required by Construction Part 1, General Rules. MIOSHA's annual tracking of construction accidents indicates that a majority of construction employers are cited for an inadequate APP and/or lack of adequate task training. A comprehensive and well maintained company Accident Prevention Program (APP) that includes supervisor and employee training helps to prevent injuries and death in the construction industry. 

Both Construction Part 45 and Part 1 require specific employee training. Employees must be trained on the following issues:

  • Use at least one of the following whenever employees are exposed to a fall hazard, in accordance with the applicable rule: guardrail systems; safety net systems; personal fall arrest systems.
  • Cover or guard floor holes as soon as they are created during new construction.
  • For existing structures, survey the site before working and continually audit as work continues.  Guard or cover any openings or holes immediately.
  • Construct all floor hole covers so they will effectively support two times the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time. Covers must be secured and color-coded or marked with the words "HOLE" or "COVER".
  • Ensure that employees are trained on the use of fall prevention and/or fall protection systems, and any alternative fall protection measures and/or any fall protection plan that is in place.
  • Be aware of the industry-specific compliance alternatives for homes or certain apartment or condominium buildings. 

In general, it is better to provide fall prevention systems, such as guardrails, than fall protection systems, such as safety nets or fall arrest devices, because they provide more positive safety means. MIOSHA standards and associated links can be viewed at www.michigan.gov/mioshastandards.

Construction employees must be able to recognize the hazardous condition before an accident occurs. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that their employees possess, at a minimum, adequate training on the above issues and all other training required by standards specific to the work operation or exposure. Proper training can reduce accidents, related costs and lost production, as well as avoid MIOSHA citations and penalties.

Fall Protection Awareness Campaign

MIOSHA is initiating an extensive "Fall Protection Awareness Campaign" to address exposures to fall hazards in the construction workplace. The goal of this campaign is to increase awareness of fall hazards in the construction industry and to help ensure that employers are aware of the need to adequately train their employees and provide opportunities to attend training.

"The MIOSHA program is dedicated to protecting the safety and health of Michigan's working men and women," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "We are encouraging construction employers to use all available resources, including MIOSHA outreach services, to provide required employee training."

The fall protection training initiative will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will focus on residential construction and the industry-specific compliance alternatives for homes and certain apartment or condominium buildings. The residential phase mass mailing will be sent to more than 6,000 Michigan construction employers identified as having work activities that may expose employees to fall hazards in residential construction in September 2005, with training seminars beginning in October 2005. The initiative for non-residential fall protection will follow in 2006.

The mailings will encourage employers to contact the MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division, if they have employees who need training. As workshops are scheduled they will be posted on the CET Calendar on the MIOSHA website at www.michigan.gov/miosha. Employers can also contact their trade association, a safety training/educational consultant or other training center.

Companies can call the CET Division at 517-322-1809 for seminar dates, locations and partnering opportunities.  For more information on MIOSHA standards and fall hazards, companies can contact the Construction Safety and Health (CSH) Division at 517-322-1856.

Our goal is to ensure that effective training is provided to construction employees to help reduce or eliminate exposure to fall hazards.