The National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction on May 3-7 is led by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to reduce injuries and fatalities from falls.
Each year, OSHA publishes a top 10 list of the most frequently cited violations it has recorded. The list for 2020 is largely unchanged from 2019, suggesting that little progress has been made addressing the most common workplace incidents, four of which are related to fall protection: fall protection (general requirements), ladders, scaffolding and fall protection (training requirements). OSHA logged nearly 12,000 violations for these four standards.
Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 401 of the 1,061 construction fatalities recorded in the United States in 2019 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.
“Falls from height are the leading cause of death for construction workers,” said fall safety expert Thom Kramer, P.E., CSP, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP). “Workers can face risks on roofs, above floor openings and even at lower levels or when using PPE that deceptively feels safer. But no matter the task, workplace fatalities are preventable.”
The National Safety Stand Down coincides with National Construction Safety Week and has helped train nearly 10 million workers on fall prevention since its inception in 2014.
What is a Safety Stand-Down?
A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on fall hazards and reinforcing the importance of fall prevention, including engineering controls, training and personal protective equipment.
Employers at companies where employees are not exposed to falls from height can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about falls on walking and working surfaces – on average, slips, trips and falls cause nearly 700 fatalities per year – as well as the other job hazards they face, protective methods and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall and other job hazards they see.
Who Can Participate?
Anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations and safety equipment manufacturers.
OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, 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 Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.
How to Conduct a Safety Stand-Down and FAQs
Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace anytime. See Suggestions to Prepare for a Successful “Stand-Down” and Highlights from the Past Stand-Downs.
Share Your Story With OSHA
If you want to share information with OSHA on your Safety Stand-Down, fall prevention programs or suggestions on how the agency can improve future initiatives like this, please send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also share your Stand-Down story on social media, with the hashtag: #StandDown4Safety.
ASSP’s Fall Protection Toolbox Supports OSHA’s Stand-Down
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) has introduced fall protection courses and new online safety resources to help safety professionals recognize the eighth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction on May 3-7. The campaign is led by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which encourages construction companies to join the weeklong observance by promoting awareness, training and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to combat one of the industry’s greatest risks that caused more than 400 workers to die in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In participating in the stand-down, companies can briefly stop work and present a site-wide toolbox talk or conduct another safety activity such as a safety equipment inspection, rescue planning exercise or discussion of job-specific hazards.
ASSP’s new online Fall Protection Toolbox offers resources employers need to identify and control risks, provide relevant training and protect workers at height. The toolbox contains free webinars, articles and podcasts from industry experts as well as online instructor-led or self-paced safety courses. Safety professionals can also download a free copy of The Fall Protection Code that outlines the complete series of Z359 standards.
“Safety professionals should encourage their organizations to take part in the stand-down,” ASSP’s Kramer said. “Sharing how your company is participating will inspire others to get involved.”
Fall Safety Resources from Intelex: