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The U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls, the leading cause of fatal workplace injuries and the violation the agency cites most frequently in construction industry inspections.

The emphasis program will focus on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in all industries. This instruction provides guidance to Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) National, Regional, Area, and State Plan offices for implementation of an OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP) to reduce or eliminate workplace fall hazards associated with working at heights.

This instruction applies OSHA-wide. All construction inspections related to falls will be conducted pursuant to this NEP. For non-construction inspections, this NEP will target the following activities:

1. Roof top mechanical work/maintenance
2. Utility line work/maintenance (electrical, cable)
3. Arborist/tree trimming
4. Holiday light installation
5. Road sign maintenance/billboards
6. Power washing buildings (not connected to painting)
7. Gutter cleaning
8. Chimney cleaning
9. Window cleaning
10. Communication Towers

For other non-construction work activities where a worker is observed working at height, an inspection may be initiated upon approval by area office management.

The program establishes guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards and allows OSHA compliance safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights.

Considering that falls remain the leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries in all industries, the agency has determined that an increase in enforcement and outreach activities is warranted.

The targeted enforcement program is based on historical Bureau of Labor Statistics data and OSHA enforcement history. BLS data shows that of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in 2021, 680 were associated with falls from elevations, about 13 percent of all deaths.

“This national emphasis program aligns all of OSHA’s fall protection resources to combat one of the most preventable and significant causes of workplace fatalities,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.

“We’re launching this program in concert with the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction and the industry’s Safety Week. Working together, OSHA and employers in all industries can make lasting changes to improve worker safety and save lives.”

An outreach component of the program will focus on educating employers about effective ways to keep their workers safe.

If a compliance officer determines an inspection is not necessary after entering a worksite and observing work activities, they will provide outreach on fall protection and leave the site.

Learn more about federally required fall protection on the OSHA website.