Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction, accounting for one-third of worker deaths in the industry, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH and OSHA, along with The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), are cosponsoring a National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction the week of May 6–10.
NIOSH also noted that:
- Almost two-thirds of all fatal falls are from roofs, scaffolds, and ladders; and
- Four of the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards are related to falls in construction—fall protection, ladders, scaffolds, and training requirements.
Agencies Urge Year-Round Vigilance
The heads of NIOSH and OSHA urged employers to focus on fall prevention during the Stand-Down week but remain vigilant throughout the year.
“Addressing fall prevention saves lives, not only during the National Safety Stand-Down, but every day all year long,” NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, said in a statement.
“This should be a priority during the first week of May and must be a priority every day,” Loren Sweatt, acting assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, added.
“OSHA has tools readily available for employers and workers to address the prevention of fall hazards,” Sweatt said.
Links to OSHA’s tools and its partners’ resources can be found on its National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction webpage.
The agency has suggestions for conducting a successful Stand-Down event, including:
- Start early, designating a coordinator to organize the stand-down;
- For multiple work sites, identify a team that will lead the stand-down at each site;
- Consider reviewing elements of existing fall prevention programs, such as types of falls covered and training and fall protection equipment provided to employees;
- Develop presentations or activities (equipment checks, toolbox talks, or worksite walkarounds) best suited for the employees and worksites;
- Promote Stand-Down events, and follow up on any suggestions for improvements to the fall protection programs in place.
OSHA also has certificates of participation available for download, along with events and regional coordinators for the Stand-Down week.
The CPWR offers over a dozen toolbox talks, some in Spanish, on its resources webpage (stopconstructionfalls.com/one-stop-stand-down-shop/). The CPWR’s other resources include employee handouts, planning guides, “Spot the Hazard” activity guides, and English and Spanish videos. Employers also can order hard hat stickers and hazard alert cards from the CPWR.
NIOSH App, Simulator
NIOSH developed a ladder safety mobile application available for iPhone® from Apple’s App Store or Android smartphones in the Google Play store. The app uses sound, vibrational, and visual cues to help users set an extension ladder at the proper angle.
The institute also offers a free Aerial Lift Hazard Recognition Simulator that can be downloaded to a computer. Aerial lifts include boom lifts and scissor lifts.
The CPWR, formerly known as the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, is a nonprofit organization created by the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department.