Safety session focused on falls

Julie Gibson, acting director of the Missouri Department of Labor, addresses workers during Tuesday’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fall prevention stand down at the New St. Mary’s Hospital. She presented a proclamation from Gov. Jay Nixon naming Sept. 3 “Worksite Safety Day.”

Julie Gibson, acting director of the Missouri Department of Labor, addresses workers during Tuesday’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fall prevention stand down at the New St. Mary’s Hospital. She presented a proclamation from Gov. Jay Nixon naming Sept. 3 “Worksite Safety Day.” Photo by Julie Smith.

Falls are the No. 1 cause of death in the construction industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promotes three steps for fall prevention — plan, provide and train.

OSHA and the Missouri Department of Labor joined St. Mary’s Health Center (SMHC) officials and construction workers Tuesday at the work site of the new SMHC on Mission Drive. They discussed the importance of work site safety and the Department of Labor presented a proclamation from Gov. Jay Nixon, proclaiming Sept. 3, as Work Site Falls Prevention Day in Missouri.

The event was a way for the Department of Labor to promote it’s On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program, which provides “mock” OSHA-type inspections at high hazard workplaces.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 775 fatalities in the private construction sector in 2012.

“It’s a staggering number,” said Mike Minicky, an OSHA safety engineer based in St. Louis.

Sen. Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, said that thankfully many companies, including those represented at Tuesday’s event, see the need for safety in their operations.

“Remember, at times your job can be stressful and dangerous, but with a safety-first attitude, you can all return home the way you arrived on the job site to your families,” Walsh said.

One of the companies represented at the event was Alberici, the construction company in charge of the SMHC work site.

Tim Gunn, construction project manager with Alberici, said the company hasn’t had any loss time injuries since it began work on the site in April 2012. Construction crews have expended 156,000 work hours, more than 74 percent of which are from Cole County and the surrounding counties.

Gunn noted “780 workers have been through our safety orientation and we are now over 180 workers per day on the project site.”

He said the company expects to finish construction on the new SMHC facility in nearly a year.

Minicky said it’s important for workers, such as those with Alberici, to act as leaders on a work site, preventing falls and promoting safety.

He said if something looks unsafe, say something.

“Speak up”, Minicky said. “Any time you’re off the ground, there’s risk of injury or even fatality.”

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