From May 8 to May 12, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold its fourth annual National Safety Stand-Down, a program started in 2013 to “raise fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries,” according to the OSHA website. Towards this aim, OSHA encourages employers to hold “Safety Stand-Downs” or voluntary events for employers to talk to their employees about fall hazards and prevention.
Dr. Christine Branche, Principal Associate Director and Director of the Office of Construction Safety at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (one of OSHA's partners for the safety week) stated, “Falls proliferate in every type of construction.”
In their 2017 Quarterly Report, the Center for Construction Research and Training reported that in 2015 falls were more prevalent in construction than in any other major industries. More than 10,000 construction workers are seriously injured every year from falls at the worksite and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, in 2015 alone, falls accounted for nearly 40 percent of all fatalities in the construction industry. This prominence, Dr. Branche stated, is the reason it is important that “employers of all sizes stop work and focus on [fall safety] education and awareness.”
Safety Stand-Down events can be as simple as an employer settings aside a short break to demonstrate a safety procedure, complete an equipment check or present one of OSHA’s prewritten safety meetings called Toolbox Talks. On the other end of the spectrum, individuals can visit longer multiday events open to the public held by larger organizations or nationwide online events.
Past participants have included construction companies of all sizes, sub- and independent contractors, the U.S. military, unions, trade associations, training associations and employee interest organizations. Even product manufacturers get involved.
Werner, a ladder and climbing product manufacturer in Greenville, Pa., will hold more than 150 training events involving more than 25,000 participants throughout May.
In these events, specialists will train end users on their own job sites in a variety of programs from 10-minute safety inspections to multiday, job site courses, covering ladder inspections, fall protection equipment inspections, harness adjustment training, fall protection tripod training sessions and more.
“Proper awareness along with in-depth ladder and fall protection training from our team can help create safer working environments for construction employees,” said Chris Filardi, VP of Marketing for WernerCo.
Interested individuals can register for one of Werner’s free events at www.wernerstanddown.com, where a free online course, literature and other safety resources are also available.
While fall awareness and safety is the responsibility of all—employees, manufacturers, trade organizations, etc.— Dr. Branche stressed that Safety Stand-Down Week is particularly targeted towards employers as they determine when their employees can take the time to focus on safety. She stated, “Employers are in the position of power. They have the power to determine when work can stop. Not the workers.
For more information visit https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/. To find Safety Stand-Down events (including national online events) visit https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/calendar.html or to find material and resources to host your own event visit https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/faqs.html and https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/suggestions.html.