Oklahoma City construction crew stands down for fall safety

Published: Sat, May 12, 2018


It's gallows humor on a construction site of any height: "You know what they say, it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end."

That droll truism had real meaning when Kelly Heathington quoted it Friday to about 75 workers at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters rebuilding site.

Otherwise, his talk was all nuts and bolts — or, more specifically, anchors and harnesses and connectors.

Heathington, safety specialist for Ram Tool Construction Supply Co., gave fall prevention safety training for a crew from CMSWillowbrook Construction Management, which is leading the $15.2 million project at 1801 N Lincoln Blvd.

Using a 225-pound weight dropped from a crane, he also demonstrated how a harness and other equipment can break a fall — and talked about the dangers of using the equipment improperly.

Even used properly, "Just because you don't hit the ground doesn't mean the fall is over," said Heathington, sent this week by Birmingham, Alabama-based Ram Tool to conduct safety training for construction companies in Oklahoma and Texas.

In addition to explaining how different safety tools work, he peppered his talk with everyday reminders of how even an arrest fall can hurt badly:

A loose leg strap can do terrible damage to the groin area. Ink, from a name written directly on the webbing, damages a harness. Hanging too long with a femoral artery tied off by a strap can be deadly. An ink pen in a shirt pocket can be a killer.

Construction accounts for 1,000 of 5,000 industrial fatalities annually, and 350 people die from falls on job sites, he said at the annual training, part of Fall Safety Stand-Down Week, promoted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

CMSWillowbrook workers get safety training much more often than once a year, said Kent Dalrymple, safety director.

"We have other training throughout the year," Dalrymple said. "We have monthly superintendent, project manager and labor team meetings, and we have weekly meetings on the job sites."

Accident prevention is what keep a construction site safe, Dalrymple said in a blog post at www.cmwwillowbrok.com.

"CMSWilowbrook is committed to keeping every one of our employees — and anyone else working on our projects — safe," he said. "That means being aggressive about preventing injuries, not just reacting when someone is hurt. The stakes are too high to be passive."


Larisha Hunter