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SaraRattiganPosted by Sara Rattigan, a health communication specialist in the Occupational Health Surveillance Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Most of us spend a majority of our waking lives at work, and many of us can take for granted a relatively safe work environment. But too many workers are exposed to risk for injury or illness every day on the job. Workers’ Memorial Day is internationally observed on April 28 to remember those who have suffered from illness or injury or died on the job.

This year, timed with Workers’ Memorial Day, the Department of Public Health’s Massachusetts Fatality Assessment & Control Evaluation Project (MA FACE) is launching a campaign to address one cause of worker deaths in the Commonwealth: falls in residential construction.

MA Falls Campaign image
Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, both nationwide and in Massachusetts.

Think about your own neighborhood: There may be construction projects underway, large or small—workers on ladders or scaffolds, or on rooftops. Do ladders appear to be stable and in good condition? Are workers on roofs protected from hitting the ground by guard rails, or body harnesses that are tied off? These are the very workers at greatest risk for injury or death.

The Massachusetts Campaign to Prevent Falls in Residential Construction aims to:

1) Provide small contractors with the training and resources needed to perform jobs safely from heights;

2) Increase general public awareness of the dangers related to falls on residential construction sites.

The campaign was developed alongside the National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction, and is a joint effort between MA FACE, the Department of Labor Standards (DLS), and MA FACE’s Preventing Falls in Residential Construction (PFC) Workgroup, a committee of government, labor, insurance, industry, community and academic stakeholders.

Campaign activities include:

  • Statewide dissemination of newly released fall prevention brochures for residential construction contractors, produced by MA FACE;
  • Fall prevention trainings for MA roofing contractors, offered free of charge by DLS;
  • Public awareness campaign ads on local transit statewide, including on the MBTA, GATRA, BAT, PVTA, FRTA and NRTA, and on MassDOT’s roadside digital billboards. 

This spring, keep a look out when traveling on the highway, bus or train for our campaign ad. I also challenge you to look for signs in your own neighborhood for signs of safe (or unsafe) working conditions. Our first step in preventing falls is bringing everyone on board to the issue.

If you have questions about training or concerns about fall prevention on Massachusetts residential construction sites, please contact the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s Region 1 Office.

Members of MA FACE’s PFC Workgroup include The Construction Institute, The Department of Industrial Accidents, The Department of Labor Standards, Greenwood Industries, Northeastern University Department of Physical Therapy, Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America, Lawrence Community Connections, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, New England Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund, and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

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