Washington, DC – The construction of a nation, the physical labor that it takes to build and re-build, requires safe working conditions for its laborers. This year, during the week of May 6-10, thousands of employers across the country and internationally will stand down for the safety of construction workers and participate in the 6th annual National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. By pausing and taking time during this important week to communicate safety policies and best practices, provide fall prevention demonstrations and training, and offer talks about ways to protect from and mitigate fall hazards, employers can be at the forefront of safety while collectively participating in a campaign.
Falls are still the leading cause of death in construction accounting for one-third of on-the-job deaths in the industry. Almost two-thirds of all fatal falls are from roofs, scaffolds, and ladders. Four of the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards in 2018 directly relate to falls in construction: Fall protection; Scaffolds; Ladders; and Training Requirements. It is clear that these fatalities are preventable.
“While small construction firms are particularly hard hit, we encourage all leaders in the construction industry to make fall prevention and the safety of construction workers their highest priority,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Addressing fall prevention saves lives, not only during the National Safety Stand-Down, but every day all year long.”
he National Safety Stand-Down is a combined effort led by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, and has become the cornerstone of the National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction launched in 2012.
Now in its 6th year, the Stand-Down is a voluntary event that encourages employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold stand-down events by taking a break from work to focus on job hazards and protective measures and use the multitude of resources available to them to raise awareness. These resources include tool-box talks, guides, training, posters, infographics and videos, and hard hat stickers, hazard alert cards, the NIOSH ladder safety app and aerial lift simulator.
The National Roofers Contractor Association will also host three free webinars during the Stand-Down week on ladder use and set-up, personal fall arrest systems, and rescue techniques.
“Falls can be prevented when employers train and educate workers about these hazards properly and provide appropriate protection,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt, MBA. “This should be a priority during the first week of May and must be a priority every day. OSHA has tools readily available for employers and workers to address the prevention of fall hazards.”
For the 2019 campaign, NIOSH created four new videos to highlight motivational stories of several organizations involved in the Stand-Down: OSHA, the Kentucky FACE program, the business perspective from BrandSafway, and the insurance and small business perspective. New infographics are valuable tools for succinctly communicating the messages of fall prevention to workers, and additional resources can be found at CPWR’s one-stop Stand-Down shop.
“We’ve asked contractors and workers about the benefits of participating in the Stand-Down over the last six years and, in addition to raising awareness around falls and improving fall prevention activities on the jobsite, the industry reports seeing improvements to their overall safety and health programs,” said CPWR Executive Director Chris Trahan Cain, CIH. “Some participants have reported seeing fewer falls, slips, and trips on their jobsites and even the smallest companies, including those with two-or three-person crews, have reported that being a part of a national campaign is a huge benefit.”
The benefits of participating in the Stand-Down go beyond raising awareness and improving worker knowledge of fall prevention. In a survey CPWR conducted of organizations that have been highly engaged in the Campaign, 75% of respondents noticed an increase in fall prevention activities at their organization or in the industry as a whole, and 72% noticed an improvement in overall safety & health initiatives other than falls. Being part of a national campaign, having access to new training resources, increased opportunities to share these resources, and improved relationships with other stakeholders and campaign partners, were among the other benefits noted.
With the ability to build and re-build our nation’s infrastructure, those entrusted with a workforce must continue to guard its safety. Join the Stand-Down and help reach more workers.