OSHA, Newspapers, and Pictures

Before the age of television, cell phones and the internet, news was conveyed via newspapers. In 1911, Arthur Brisbane, a reporter and editor in New York City, used the expression “use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Today, that phrase has been adjusted and is more commonly known as “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Keep this quote in mind for the next few seconds. Close to my home is a gas station that sustained some damage from a recent summer storm. The awning over the gas tanks had collapsed and was being replaced. As my husband and I drove past the station, I took the following picture.

Fall Prevention

Now my husband and I both work in the safety field, so you can imagine the conversation we had after seeing this. The comment that struck me most was “I’d rather terminate a person for working at elevation without fall protection than have to tell their family that they died.” Think about that statement. It is powerful, honest and true.

For the past few years one of the top ten OSHA violations is in the area of Fall Protection. In 2014, it was the number one violation. Per OSHA 1926.501, Employers must design the workplace in such a way as to keep Employees from falling. Falling can be from overhead platforms, elevated work stations or even into holes.  In fact, the regulation outlines the specific heights at which fall protection must be provided. Those elevations at which some form of fall protection be used includes the following:

  • 4 feet (1.22 meters) for general industry
  • 5 feet (1.52 meters) for shipyards
  • 6 feet (1.83 meters) for construction work
  • 8 feet (2.44 meters) for longshoring operations.

If one looks back at the picture, it is clear the worker is more than 4 feet off the ground and there is nothing to keep the worker from falling. This is a problem.  Did the construction company not supply a railing, guard rail, or harness and line? Did the worker refuse to wear the safety equipment provided? OSHA offers several resources for employers and employees for Protecting Workers from Falls. Check out the link and get educated.

Let the thousand words from this picture be used for training and education and not to write an obituary in the newspaper.




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