Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Standard Board approves regulation for protection of construction workers
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 18, 2005) – The Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board today approved a regulation that spells out ways to protect residential construction workers from injuries due to falls.
Construction, both residential and commercial, is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States. Kentucky recorded 12 fatal construction accidents in 2004.
Enforcement historically has been focused on commercial construction. But four of the 12 fatalities last year were in residential construction. The Office of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC) this year held training sessions across the state on fall protection for residential construction workers. In addition, OSH personnel for the first time began making scheduled inspections of residential construction sites.
The new regulation, based in large part on an Oregon program that is considered a national model, describes several protection methods for employees working 10 or more feet above a lower level. They include slide guards, guardrail or safety net systems and personal fall arrest or fall restraint systems.
The regulation also gives employers flexibility to customize alternative systems, provided they afford equal or greater protection.
“Improving worker safety and reducing accidents and injuries in the work place is a priority of this cabinet and the administration of Governor Ernie Fletcher,” EPPC Secretary LaJuana S. Wilcher said.
“We believe that enforceable regulations, combined with proper training and improved communication with the regulated community, will lead to the safer work places we all desire and lower workers’ compensation costs for employers,” Wilcher said.
Bob Weiss, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Kentucky, said the regulation represented “a new day for job site safety in Kentucky.”
“Our association will immediately begin extensive educational efforts to ensure our builders and subcontractors are up to date with fall protection and other safety measures in residential construction,” Weiss said.
Kentucky had the nation’s fourth-highest construction accident fatality rate in 2002, the most recent year for the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) published by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The CFOI reflects fatal injuries per 100,000 workers. Kentucky had 14 construction deaths, translating to a CFOI fatality rate of 29.6. That trailed only North Dakota (40.0), Nebraska (38.1) and Wyoming (33.3). The national rate was 12.3. Kentucky experienced 12 construction fatalities in both 2003 and 2004.
EPPC will file the regulation with the Legislative Research Commission for public comment and legislative review.