Last month’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction could not have come at a more appropriate time. Held the first week in June, this collaborative effort between OSHA, NIOSH and various health and safety organizations brought much-needed attention to falls, the leading cause of death in the construction industry. More than one million workers and 25,000 businesses across the country participated. Together, workers and owners took time out of the day to hold toolbox talks that focused on fall hazards and fall prevention, to inspect safety equipment and to review safety policies, goals and expectations. We hope this increased awareness and focus on fall safety translates into fewer construction laborers suffering serious injuries or losing their lives from falls that could be avoided.
Here at the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America, we continue our own efforts to prevent falls with an article in this issue covering ladder safety. Ladders are as fundamental to construction as hardhats, and are the cause of more falls in construction than any other source. It is critical to use them safely.
Construction’s busy season is also an appropriate time to remind Laborers and management about other key health and safety issues. In this issue of LIFELINES, we take a look at one of the most routine and yet dangerous tasks involved with highway maintenance work: setting up and removing cones, barrels and other traffic control devices in work zones.
We also focus on an area of health and safety that doesn’t make many headlines but is no less essential: work boots. When most of the workday is spent standing or moving around, feet take a beating. In this issue, we take a look at what makes a good work boot as well as how to ensure that the ones you buy fit properly.
As always, we cover health and wellness outside the workplace as well. Our continuing series on high blood pressure explores the importance of sleep in reducing risk for this common and deadly condition. We also examine statin medications, which are being prescribed to a growing percentage of the population to help reduce unhealthy levels of cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.
Our increasingly digital world has moved beyond email and texting to make everything from bank statements to blueprints available electronically. This is a great convenience, but more time spent staring at computer, tablet and smartphone screens has made digital eyestrain a growing concern. This month, we include an article that will help diagnose your risk for digital eyestrain, provide guidance for decreasing its symptoms and improve the overall health of your eyes.
Lastly, we are pleased to report that our collection of Health & Welfare brochures, which cover vital topics including heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are now available in both English and in Spanish. The LHSFNA was established to help protect the health and safety of all LIUNA members and their families, and providing Spanish versions alongside our English materials is yet another way to ensure we are continuing to fulfill that mission.