Expanded Fall Protection Awareness Event Aims Bigger

By Roy Maurer Apr 9, 2015

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and a variety of public, private, labor and nonprofit partners are preparing for the second annual Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, a national event taking place in all 50 states May 4-15, 2015.

This year the agency aims to reach more than 3 million workers at over 20,000 stand-downs, which would represent nearly 40 percent of construction workers nationwide.

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation are a leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for more than one-third of the construction fatalities recorded in 2013. Fall protection in construction also continues to be OSHA’s most frequently violated standard. There were 7,506 violations of the standard cited and $21.6 million in penalties issued to employers in fiscal year 2014.

More than 1 million workers participated in last year’s week-long stand-down, the largest occupational safety event ever hosted in the United States, according to OSHA. This year’s event will be expanded to two weeks and participating organizations hope to triple the numbers of participants, building on last year’s high turnout and interest.

“Given the tremendous response we’ve received, it’s clear that this is an important issue to a great number of people across this nation,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “We are so pleased to work towards preventing these tragedies through innovative and collaborative efforts like the Safety Stand-Down.”

The event is part of a larger campaign to prevent falls in construction, launched three years ago by OSHA. Additional partners for this year’s stand-down include: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Occupational Research Agenda, the Center for Construction Research and Training, American Society for Safety Engineers (ASSE), National Construction Safety Executives, the United States Air Force, the National Safety Council, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers.

What Is a Safety Stand-Down?

According to OSHA, a safety stand-down is “a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety.” The focus of this stand-down is on fall hazards and reinforcing the importance of fall prevention.

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 during the two-week period.

OSHA stressed that anyone can participate in the stand-down. At the 2014 event, participants included construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. military, unions, employers’ trade associations, worker interest organizations, safety equipment manufacturers, and others.

The newly launched 2015 National Safety Stand-Down website provides details on how to conduct a stand-down, receive a certificate of participation, and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. It will also include a list of stand-down events that are free and open to the public, as they become available.

“As the economy continues to grow and the need for construction workers increases, we hope the stand-down will remind employers and workers that fall prevention is an important part of every workplace safety plan,” said ASSE President Patricia Ennis. “We urge all our members to use this opportunity to reach out to employers in every industry to create safer work environments by participating in this year’s stand-down and continuing to help prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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