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Ohio Department of Aging Press Release

June 4, 2014

STEADY U Ohio and BWC partner to prevent falls in construction during National Safety Stand-Down

Industry adopting a steady approach to preventing injuries for an aging workforce

COLUMBUS - The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is sponsoring the National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction from June 2 - 6, 2014. STEADY U Ohio, the state's falls prevention initiative, and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation support the national event, recognizing that the construction workforce is aging. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, and many of these deaths are preventable. In Ohio, 22 people, on average, die from construction-related falls each year, and more are injured. In older workers, these injuries can be devastating.

With Ohio's aging workforce, it is more important than ever to prevent falls and injuries on job sites."With Ohio's aging workforce, it is more important than ever to prevent falls and injuries on job sites. Roofs and ladders are particularly risky for older workers," said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D., director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which leads the STEADY U initiative. "Just as we all need training to keep up with changes in technology to better do our jobs, we need training to adjust to our changing senses and balance as we grow older to prevent injuries from falls.

The construction workforce in the state and nation is aging due to a number of factors, including a shortage of qualified workers in some sectors, economic factors that make workers choose to stay employed longer, and technology that has made once demanding tasks easier and safer. While much of falls prevention in construction focuses on falls from heights (such as from a ladder or scaffold), older workers are more likely to be hospitalized for slipping and tripping accidents.

"Slips, trips and falls are the leading cause of lost time injuries in construction and account for 33% of all lost-time injuries," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Providing workers with the right accommodations and equipment, and assuring that they have the knowledge and training to use them properly, will help prevent future falls on construction sites."

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. STEADY U and BWC encourage Ohio construction companies and contractors to identify risk areas for falls, particularly those involving their older employees, and then improve the environment to prevent future falls. OSHA provides resources to help companies conduct a safety stand-down at www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/.

With BWC as a partner, STEADY U Ohio offers resources for all types of businesses to create fall-free zones, including a tip sheet, hazard checklist and sample falls prevention policies and incident reporting forms. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov and follow SteadyUOhio on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and ideas.


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