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On Workers’ Memorial Day, Partnership Aims to End Deadly Falls on Nation’s Construction Sites

Washington, D.C. (April 27, 2012) – Yesterday, LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – joined forces with a coalition of worker safety organizations to kick-off “The Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction!” – a national initiative aimed at promoting general safety on job sites and preventing falls, the leading cause of construction deaths in the U.S.

The campaign launches ahead of Workers’ Memorial Day, an annual day of remembrance for those killed, injured or sickened on the job. The Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America played a key role in the campaign’s conceptualization and has been working with several public and private sector groups, as well as government entities like OSHA, to roll it out.

“Falls are the number-one threat to workers on construction sites, yet they are largely preventable,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “On Workers’ Memorial Day, we mourn those men and women who lost their lives, but through this campaign we’ll prevent future tragedies – and work to ensure all who go to work each day, come home safe to their families each night.”

As part of “The Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction!” debut, a new website was created: The interactive site memorializes victims who have been killed on the job and maps out revealing patterns behind those casualties in order to improve safety and health on construction job sites and avoid future accidents.

While fatalities in construction have declined every year since 2006, the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicates there’s still more to be done: In 2010, over 750 construction workers died at work – 34.6 percent from falls – while another 74,950 suffered lost-time injuries. Moreover, construction workers face a disproportionate risk of on-the-job death, injury or illness when compared to other sectors. Though construction jobs account for roughly 5 percent of the overall workforce, 16.5 percent of all deaths occurred on construction sites.

“Every day, construction workers commit themselves to dangerous projects that build America and keep our nation competitive,” added O’Sullivan. “We owe it to them to do everything in our power to make sure they have the right training and equipment to do their job correctly and safely. One death, one injury, one illness is simply one too many.”

In addition to advocating for fall awareness this Workers’ Memorial Day, LIUNA continually works within its own membership to ensure that death or injury is never the price of going to work. The union’s own health and safety programs have demonstrated that casualties can be greatly reduced with proper training and regulation.