SALEM — Oregon OSHA has launched a free online course to help employers and workers across the state meet the agency’s requirements to eliminate fall hazards, prevent falls, and ensure that workers who do fall do not die.

The two-hour course, “Fundamentals of Fall Protection,” includes six parts with 28 videos and is designed to supplement employers’ fall protection training programs. It provides an overview of the rules, features interviews with experts, and provides links to additional information. Moreover, the course defines what fall protection means; walks viewers through fall protection options; delves into equipment inspection and maintenance; and shows viewers how to begin using fall protection.

It also brings into sharp focus the broken lives that result from failing to address fall hazards. One of the videos features a husband and wife, Russ and Laurel Youngstrom, who share their story of Russ Youngstrom’s fall in 1995 from a scaffold. The accident severed his spinal cord, left him a paraplegic, and changed his family’s life forever.

The Youngstroms have dedicated their lives to speaking out and advocating for safety. “Think of your kids,” Russ Youngstrom said. “Put a picture of them on your hard hat, on your excavator, something to remind you why you’re at work.”

Fall hazards are present at nearly every workplace. The human and economic costs of ignoring them cannot be overstated:

• One in five workplace deaths are due to slips, trips, and falls, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• From 2013 to 2018, there were 7,195 accepted disabling claims in Oregon due to falls to a lower level.

• In 2018, fall protection was the most commonly cited violation for Oregon’s construction industry, with 443 total violations and initial penalties of $902,990.

• In one year, fall injuries cost the U.S. economy more than $13 billion, according to the National Safety Council.

“We encourage employers and workers in Oregon to add this flexible, user-friendly online tool to their fall protection toolbox,” said Roy Kroker, consultation and public education manager for Oregon OSHA. “There’s more to come, too, as we roll out our entire online suite of fall protection courses.”

“Fundamentals of Fall Protection” is the first of five online courses about fall protection that will be released during the summer and fall of 2019. The additional courses will address specific industries. When published, all five courses will offer more than 100 videos.

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