Any worker who has ever spent any time on a construction site knows even the smallest jobsite comes with risks. A modest residential job involving roofing or trench work can quickly turn deadly when safety procedures are not followed and personal protection equipment is unavailable.
But on large construction projects, like high-rise development projects in Chicago, or the 1.1 billion dollar Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, where there are dozens of subcontractors at work at any time, the risks rapidly multiply. Yesterday, in what was described by the senior vice president of the contractor, as a “very tragic day,” one worker fell to his death and a second workers suffered serious injuries.
This accident recalls similar deadly accidents during construction at the site of the San Francisco 49ers’ stadium, where two workers were killed. Falls are the leading cause of fatal accidents on construction sites, at 37 percent.
The contractor that was involving in the roofing accident has been cited by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) nine times in the past five years, and the majority involved the lack of safety harnesses or guardrails.
This type of protective gear is often not used because of the perception that it is “unnecessary” and that it slows workers down, making jobs more expensive for customers or less profitable for employers.
But the OSHA requirements for safety harnesses when working at heights of six-feet or greater arose because of tragic deaths like this. In 1970, when OSHA was created, 38 workers died every day. In 2013, from a much larger labor pool, that number was down to 12.
If the 26 workers who lived to return home to their families because they didn’t die in a workplace accident, compliance with OSHA regulations would be seen as burdensome.
Source: startribune.com, “1 worker dead, 1 injured in fall from roof at Vikings stadium,” Rochelle Olson and Libor Jany, August 27, 2015