The number of injuries and illnesses at the Paul Brown Stadium construction project in Cincinnati, Ohio, is significantly below the national average for such projects, and area workplace safety experts are crediting a voluntary construction safety program.

The Cincinnati Area Office of OSHA developed a voluntary cooperative partnership with the contractors and Hamilton County to enhance overall job site safety at the Paul Brown Stadium.

The partnership, known as "Mobilized Alliance for Safety, Teamwork, Education and Results (MASTER)" was designed to increase employee involvement, joint labor and management job site safety oversight, teamwork and education of construction workers on construction sites.

A labor and management safety team provided oversight and monitoring of the site safety performance.

The lost workday injury and illness rate for the stadium project is 0.95 as compared to the national rate of 4.0 for the construction industry.

The national rate is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey for 1998, which is the most recent data.

Hamilton County has indicated that more than $4 million has been saved through reduced workers'' compensation and general liability costs due to the low injury and illness rate.

The MASTER project concept, with an emphasis on the utilization of fall protection, was implemented at the start of the stadium project and has remained in place throughout all phases of the project.

"The MASTER project concept has been very successful in reducing injuries and illnesses on construction sites," said William Murphy, area director of the Cincinnati area office.

Murphy noted that employee exposure to fall hazards accounts for approximately one-third of all fatalities in the construction industry and OSHA has a special emphasis on fall hazards.

"Falls, electrocutions and accidents in which employees are struck by or caught in various materials account for the majority of fatalities and serious injuries at construction sites," said Michael Connors, regional OSHA administrator in Chicago. "One of OSHA''s goals, as outlined in the agency''s strategic plan, is to reduce fatalities by 15 percent in the construction industry. The MASTER project demonstrates OSHA''s commitment to work cooperatively with employers and employees who are proactively making an attempt to reduce injuries and fatalities at their work sites."

The MASTER project program is being tested at other construction sites in the Cincinnati area, including the Great American Ball Park Stadium and OSHA plans to expand the program in 2001 to include all of Ohio.

by Virginia Sutcliffe