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Safety can prevent construction accidents in Pennsylvania

Most Pennsylvanians would agree that construction is one of the most inherently dangerous jobs a worker could do. Every year, numerous construction site accidents in Pennsylvania are reported. Many of these accidents often result in serious injuries and in some cases, death. Two such incidents happened about one month ago in Pittsburgh where seven construction workers were injured after scaffolding collapses.

Interestingly, these construction accidents occurred in the midst of efforts by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to promote worker safety at construction sites. According to a senior official from OHSA's regional office in Pittsburgh, falls are the major cause of construction site accidents.

In Allegheny and 12 other counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, 42 out of 80 accidents in the last 10 years involved a worker falling from a height, while 18 accidents were caused when a worker was hit by moving equipment or a vehicle. Three fatalities covered by OHSA's Pittsburgh office were reported last year. The office is investigating two deaths this year to date.

A major OSHA concern was ensuring worker safety for those required to work above the ground. In fact, most OSHA citations in the last year involved work sites with inadequate fall protection equipment, scaffolding or ladders. The second major issue was ensuring respiratory safety for workers whose job required working below ground level.

In order to prevent construction accidents, OHSA and its industry partners conducted training last month for more than 6,000 workers. OSHA also urged employers to ensure the use and training of appropriate safety equipment for workers.

Sadly, it is often the case that even after repeated efforts by OSHA and employers, a worker is injured in a construction site accident. Victims and their families usually have to deal with a number of emotional, as well as financial difficulties. Therefore, if the victims and their families easily receive adequate workers' compensation benefits, their problems can at least be lessened if not completely resolved.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Workzone: Agency building safety at construction sites," Len Boselovic, July 13, 2014

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