On May 8-12, OSHA will hold its fourth annual National Fall Prevention Stand-Down. Aimed at raising awareness of fall hazards in the construction industry, OSHA describes the event as “an opportunity for employers to have a conversation with employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals.” Keep reading to find out how you can get involved.
Falls from heights are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction, accounting for one-third of work-related deaths in the industry. According to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), one of the organizations partnering with OSHA for the Stand-Down, each year in the United States more than 200 construction workers are killed and over 10,000 are seriously injured by falls.
In previous years, OSHA has reached over a million workers through the Stand-Downs. While the largest percentage of companies that participated in prior years were in the commercial construction sector; other construction and nonconstruction employers were also well represented. One goal of the Stand-Down is to reach more small residential contractors, which experience a disproportionately high share of fall-related injuries and fatalities.
OSHA is partnering with a number of groups for the Stand-Down, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the National Safety Council (NSC), the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) education centers. Many of these groups offer training materials and other resources employers can use for their own Stand-Down efforts.
Tips for a successful Stand-Down
Any employer, large or small, can participate in the stand down. The goal is to stop work to hold a toolbox talk or make time for another type of safety activity such as inspecting fall protection equipment, developing rescue plans, or discussing job-specific fall hazards, in order to raise awareness and prevent falls from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds. Employers that participate can provide feedback about their experience and download a participation certificate following the Stand-Down.
OSHA offers the following suggestions to make your Stand-Down a success:
- Start preparing early and designate personnel to organize and lead the Stand-Down.
- Consider asking subcontractors, architects, engineers, or other groups to join the Stand-Down.
- Review your fall prevention program to identify fall risks at your site, determine opportunities for improvement, and examine the training and/or equipment you’ve provided to employees.
- Develop relevant activities for your workplace, and consider including hands-on exercises to increase employee engagement.
- Decide when and where to hold the Stand-Down.
- Promote the Stand-Down to your employees and encourage them to attend and participate.
- Hold your Stand-Down. Try to make it positive and interactive, and involve employees as much as possible.
- Follow up after the Stand-Down to address any hazards you identified or make any necessary improvements to your fall prevention program.
As an alternative to planning and executing their own Stand-Down activities, employers can also have employees attend one of the many free events taking place across the country that are open to the public. Events include seminars, training courses, presentations, equipment demonstrations, and more. To find a local event, visit https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/calendar.html.
Learn more about the Stand-Down at https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/index.html.