Construction Employers Asked to Take a Stand on Falls

By Roy Maurer Mar 21, 2014

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is asking construction industry employers to participate in a national safety stand-down June 2-6, 2014, to raise awareness about the hazards of falling from heights, which account for the highest number of deaths in the construction industry.

Fatalities caused by falls continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 269 of the 775 construction fatalities recorded in 2012.

During the stand-down, employers and workers are asked to interrupt their workday to discuss fall-prevention topics like working safely on ladders, scaffolding and roofs. The toolbox talk should provide information to workers about hazards, protective methods, and company safety policies, goals and expectations. OSHA plans to have employers, workers, industry groups, state OSH agencies, and civic and faith-based organizations host the events.

OSHA’s national safety stand-down website offers the following tips for conducting a successful stand-down:

  • Start early.
  • Designate a coordinator and teams to organize the stand-down at each worksite.
  • Review your fall-prevention program: What needs improvement? Is your program meeting its goals? Are you experiencing fatalities, injuries or near misses? Are employees aware of the company’s fall-protection procedures? What training have you provided to your workers? Does it need revision? What equipment have you provided to your workers? Is better equipment available?
  • Develop presentations or activities that will meet your needs. Try to make them interesting, positive and interactive. Let workers talk about their experiences, and encourage them to make suggestions.
  • Follow up on anything learned that could improve your fall-prevention program.

After the stand-down, employers may provide feedback to OSHA and download a personalized certificate of participation.

“It is encouraging to see OSHA take a proactive stance in trying to prevent workplace falls,” said Chris Pollock, general manager for Simplified Safety, a fall protection solutions provider. “So often OSHA is only reacting to a fall after it has happened or clarifying regulations. Equipping employers and encouraging them to talk about fall protection will certainly help to raise awareness. This is just one step on a very long road to changing people’s overall attitudes about the importance of fall protection,” he said.

The stand-down is part of the agency’s ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign, which began in 2012.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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