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OSHA Announces National Emphasis Program to Prevent Falls

Friday, May 5, 2023

May 1, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls. This targeted program is based on historical data from both Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and OSHA enforcement activities.

According to the most recent data from BLS, 680 deaths were associated with falls from elevation in 2021. This accounts for nearly 13 percent of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in that year.    

osha logo_.svgAccording to the Assistant Secretary for OSHA, Doug Parker, “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...”

The scope of this National Emphasis Program (NEP) applies “OSHA-wide” where an OSHA compliance safety and health officer may open an inspection whenever they observe someone working at heights. If a compliance officer determines that an inspection is not necessary after entering a worksite and observing work activities, they will provide outreach on fall protection and leave the site.

Detailed information on this NEP may be found in Directive Number CPL 03-00-025 National Emphasis Program – Falls.

See our article for tips to help create a safer workplace for you and your co-workers.






Fall Safety Survey GraphicAdditional Resources


The Fall Guy: How Not To Be One

Sunday, April 30, 2023

It holds true every year – falls are one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries in the construction industry. Falls continue to make OSHA’s “Fatal Four” list year after year. What’s more, this trend doesn’t seem to be improving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 371 fatal falls out of 1,034 total fatalities in construction in 2020. This is the primary reason OSHA organizes an annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. This voluntary event encourages employers and workers to pause and talk about fall hazards and prevention.

As a company that specializes in training and safety services, Roco Rescue knows the importance of preventing falls and preparing for emergencies. We have been teaching technical rescue, including rescue from fall protection, and providing standby rescue teams for more than 40 years. We have seen firsthand the consequences of inadequate and improperly used fall protection.

Here are five tips on how to protect yourself and your co-workers from falls when working at height:

1) Plan ahead.Hierarchy of FallPro Poster

Before you start any work at height, you should identify the fall hazards and plan on how to eliminate or mitigate them. OSHA offers a free fall protection plan template that you can use if you don’t know where to start. You can use the hierarchy of fall protection when identifying your plan for working at heights. OSHA also provides a free workbook, to help you manage fall protection hazards on your worksite.

You should also have a plan in place to rescue someone suspended in a fall arrest system. Being proactive will not only help you prevent falls, but can also significantly decrease the time that it takes to perform a rescue in the event one is needed. You can access our Fall Hazard Survey template here and our Rescue from Fall Protection Preplan template here.

OSHA provides a free fall protection plan template that can serve as an outstanding baseline for you to develop or improve your current fall protection plan. For jobs entailing unique hazards, complex fall protection systems, or areas where extended emergency response times may occur, a professional on-site rescue team may be the best option. Make sure you have the right equipment, such as ladders, scaffolds, aerial lifts, harnesses, lanyards, anchors, etc., and that they are inspected and maintained regularly. OSHA provides a general harness inspection checklist.

2) Use proper fall protection equipment.

Depending on the type of work and the height involved, you may need to use different kinds of fall protection systems, such as guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), or positioning devices. Make sure you know how to use them correctly and that they are compatible with each other. Always wear a full-body harness that fits you correctly and is adjusted properly. Connect your harness to a suitable anchor point that can support your anticipated load and prevent you from hitting the ground or any lower level. 

FallProPoster-02-13) Follow safe work practices.

When working at height, you should always follow the rules and procedures established by your employer and relevant OSHA fall protection standards. Don't take shortcuts or improvise with equipment that is not designed for fall protection. Always try to work with others; working alone, especially at heights, can be fatal if something goes wrong. Avoid working in inclement weather conditions, when possible, especially on slippery or unstable surfaces. Don't lean over edges or reach too far. Don't carry too much weight or use untethered tools that can cause you to lose your balance. 

4) Train regularly.

Fall protection training is essential for anyone who works at height. You should receive training on how to recognize and avoid fall hazards, how to properly use fall protection equipment, how to inspect and maintain your equipment, how to rescue yourself or others in case of a fall, and how to report any incidents or near misses. Click here to learn more about the importance of near-miss reporting. You should also refresh your training periodically and whenever there are changes in your work environment or equipment. Consider implementing a “fall emergency drill” to your periodic training. The worst time to see if you have an effective system in place is after someone falls!

fallpro25) Be aware and alert.

One of the most important things you can do to prevent falls is to be aware of your surroundings and alert to any potential dangers. Pay attention to where you are walking, standing, or working. Look for signs, warnings, or barriers that indicate fall hazards. Communicate with your co-workers and supervisors about any issues or concerns. Report any unsafe conditions or behaviors to your supervisors and make sure that they get addressed.

By following these tips, you can help create a safer work environment for yourself and your co-workers. Remember, falls are preventable if you take the necessary precautions.


ChrisMcGlynn headshot McGlynn is the Director of Safety/VPP Coordinator for Roco Rescue. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals as well as a Certified Confined Space and Rope Rescue Technician, and a Nationally Registered Paramedic. As Director of Safety, Chris oversees all corporate safety initiatives, ensuring that employees at Roco have the tools and training that they need to do their work safely and effectively. He is also responsible for managing Roco's Safety Services Division, which provides trained safety professionals for turnarounds and other special projects. Finally, Chris serves as the VPP Coordinator for Roco, continuing Roco’s long-standing commitment to excellence in safety and health. Roco has been an OSHA VPP Star Worksite since 2013.

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Additional ResourcesFall Hazard Survey form




OSHA Campaign for Safe Trench Operations

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

According to a report from the Department of Labor, 39 people died doing trench or excavation work in the U.S. in 2022. In fact, the number of worker fatalities more than doubled since 2021, continuing a troubling trend cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that found 166 workers died in trench cave-ins from 2011-2018, an average of 21 each year.

trench2023sm“A trench collapse can bury workers under thousands of pounds of soil and rocks in seconds, making escape and survival often impossible,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan in Chicago. “With proper training and use of required safety procedures, incidents like these can be prevented. OSHA and industry employers are working hard to raise awareness of hazards and protective measures and educate employers on how they must protect workers.”

The new campaign is a collaboration between OSHA and on-site consultation projects across OSHA Region 5 in the Midwest. “By launching this trench and excavation safety campaign as the spring construction season gets into full swing, OSHA and its partners are determined to make sure industry workers finish their daily shifts safely,” Donovan added.

Industry employers and workers should remember the following essential trench safety standards:

  • Protective systems must be in place for trenches 5-feet deep or deeper. These systems include benching, sloping, shoring and shielding.
  • A registered professional engineer must approve trenches of 20-feet deep or deeper.
  • A competent person must inspect trenches daily – and as conditions change – before anyone enters a trench. The competent person must be able to identify existing and predictable hazards, soil types and protective systems, and have authority to take prompt corrective action to eliminate those hazards.
  • Excavated soils must be kept at least two feet from trench edges. 
  • Underground utilities must be located and marked before digging begins. 
  • Ladders must be positioned every 25 feet of lateral travel for safe entrance and exit from the trench.

A trench collapse can bury workers under thousands of pounds of soil and rocks in seconds, making escape and survival often impossible.

OSHA has a national emphasis program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources in English and Spanish to help keep workers safe from these hazards.

OSHA's trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. including a safety video and safety alert. 

Source: OSHA QuickTakes April 17, 2023


Additional Resources

If you’re concerned that your rescue service may not be adequately prepared, give us a call or check out these resources for more information on how to keep you and your personnel safe around trenches.


Rescue Plans…What Is Required?

Monday, April 17, 2023

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Does OSHA 1910.146 (k)(1)(v) state that a plan must be developed by a rescue service before an entry for work can be made?

Although the regulations do not specifically state that a plan must be developed by a rescue service before an entry can be made, the regulation assumes that a properly selected and evaluated rescue team or service will develop appropriate rescue plans (or preplans). The standard requires that rescuers be given access as necessary to develop those plans. 

The regulation states that the employer shall…“Provide the rescue team or service selected with access to all permit spaces from which rescue may be necessary so that the rescue service can develop appropriate rescue plans and practice rescue operations.” [1910.146 (k)(1)(v)]

OSHA makes it very clear, however, in Appendix F of the standard, the Preamble to the Final Rule, Summary and Explanation of the Final Rule, and its Compliance Directive on Permit-Required Confined Space, that it interprets the regulation to require rescue plans. [See link below.]

It is the employer’s responsibility to perform an adequate evaluation of any prospective rescue service.

The degree and content of the rescue plan should be determined by the rescue service – and the team must be provided access to do so. The viability of the rescue plan should be demonstrated by the rescue team, proving that the rescue service is staffed, equipped, available, and proficient in performing timely rescue from an actual space or representative spaces. It is the employer’s responsibility to perform an adequate evaluation of any prospective rescue service.

Sample Rescue Preplan form 2023Bsmall

How specific must a rescue plan be to meet OSHA requirements? We like to say it can be determined by answering this question – How detailed must the rescue plan be to enable the rescue service to perform a safe and timely rescue from the permit-required confined space being entered? 

Normally, less complex spaces and entries require simpler and less detailed rescue plans. However, the more complicated the space and the hazards, the more specific and detailed the plan. Rescue complexity also influences the rescue team’s need to evaluate the space and/or a representative space in advance.

When evaluating the capabilities of a rescue service, Appendix F provides guidelines and references rescue plans for the types of spaces involved. You can also refer to Roco’s Compliance Guide and Types Chart (click here to download) which illustrates various confined space types for rescue practice and planning purposes. It also includes Appendix F for evaluating a rescue service or team.

When evaluating the capabilities of a rescue service, Appendix F provides guidelines and references rescue plans for the types of spaces involved.

It is also important for employers to note that while it is not mandatory that the rescue service evaluation be performed in a specific manner, employers still must reach the same result, confirming that the rescue service is capable of performing rescues at your site. In other words, it is a non-mandatory means of meeting mandatory requirements for evaluating your rescue service.

Employers with permit spaces must afford the selected rescue service access to the spaces for the purposes of rescue planning. The degree and content of the rescue plan should be determined by the rescue service. The rescue service must be prepared and proficient in rescue from the “same type(s) of confined spaces” in terms of configuration, access, and hazards.

OSHA 1910.146 Appendix F.


Additional ResourcesConfined Space Rescue Chart




Do Industrial Rescuers Need EMR Training?

Thursday, April 6, 2023


ANSWER: As a Paramedic, I strongly feel that having your rescue personnel trained to the EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) level is extremely beneficial for any industrial site. While EMR training is not required, it can truly make the difference in a life-or-death situation. From my personal experience, we found time and time again how this extra medical care made all the difference when responding to an incident.

Not only is the skill-level of first responders critical in an industrial emergency – many times the industrial site is fairly isolated. This can increase response times when rapid, critical care is so vital. Plant access and finding the exact location may also present potential delays to medical care. With EMRs initially on scene with your rescue team, you can know that your personnel are receiving a higher level of care when it matters most.   

To clarify, an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) is a well-versed medical responder who can attend to basic needs in a critical need situation. EMR’s are nationally certified or state-licensed medical responders generally tasked with providing immediate emergency care to the sick and injured before an ambulance or higher level of care arrives.

medical2While basic first aid and CPR may be the minimum required for rescue personnel OSHA 1910.146(k)(2)(iii), an EMR is trained to provide more enhanced care – particularly, inside a confined space or for a worker who is stranded at height. Plus, they can be there almost immediately with your rescue team to provide aid. The EMR can help with airway protection, bleeding control, mechanical ventilation, symptom recognition and support of vital functions until more advanced care is reached.

So, minimally, someone on your team needs to be certified in first aid and CPR training. And, while the techniques taught in most nationally recognized First Aid and CPR courses are great for lay folk responding in environments tamer than the industrial setting – the skills, clinical knowledge, and logistic awareness taught in the typical EMR class are a far better fit for confined space rescuers. If you’re looking to give your organization the greatest peace of mind and the best chance to avoid tragedy, we highly recommend EMR training.

Key Medical Questions for ERT Coordinators include:

  • Based on hazards identified at your facility, what types and degrees of injuries could patients sustain while at your facility?
  • What is the estimated response time for EMS/Fire Department? Is the service familiar with your facility and the potential hazards? Chemical, Mechanical, etc.
  • How will EMS access your site, or will the patient be taken to a staging area?
  • If air medical transport is necessary, has the facility coordinated a landing zone with EMS/Fire/Sheriff's office?
  • Who at the facility will assess the patient and give the information about the patient's condition to EMS?
  • Where is the nearest emergency room? Is the ER familiar with your facility and the potential hazards? Chemical, Mechanical, etc.
  • What types of drills can your facility conduct, with or without EMS/Fire, to better prepare facility personnel for an emergency?



Prior to coming to work for Roco Rescue, Chris Warrick worked the street as a paramedic for three years, and then three years as a paramedic instructor. He was the section leader for “Cardiology” as well as “Anatomy and Physiology,” and “EMS Operations” at various times. Chris holds an AAS in Paramedicine from South Louisiana Community College and is also certified to teach BLS and ACLS through the American Heart Association. He is also a licensed EMS educator in Louisiana. As a Paramedic, Chris has responded to hurricanes: Harvey, Michael, Laura, Delta, and Ida. As Medical Program Manager for Roco Rescue, Chris oversees medical protocols, procedures, equipment, and education alongside our medical director. 

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EMR CourseAdditional Resources


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