Even with additional scrutiny, shared advice, and greater workplace diligence, fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 849 workers lost their lives in fall related incidents during 2016. Diversified Fall Protection believes that many, if not all of those deaths, were preventable.
The National Safety Stand-Down, held annually in early May, raises fall hazard awareness across the United States in an effort to stop fatalities and injuries associated with falls. Since May 2014, fall protection and safety leaders across the country have rallied to support OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down. The event offers a powerful platform from which experts can remind employers and workers of the prevalence of deaths and incidents from falls; make sure they understand the dangers they face each day; and give them access to the fall protection equipment and resources they need to protect themselves and their coworkers.
What is the Safety Stand-Down?
OSHA describes a Safety Stand-Down as 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.”
A safety Stand-Down can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about potential falls and other job hazards they see.
OSHA developed this program in partnership with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), and OSHA approved State Plans.
In past years, participants have 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.
Below are some of the basic guidelines and suggestions from OSHA on conducting a Safety Stand-Down at your own workplace:
Suggestions to Prepare for a Successful Stand-Down
- Try to start early. Designate a coordinator to organize the stand-down. If you have multiple work sites, identify the team that will lead the stand-down at each site.
- Think about asking your subcontractors, owner, architects, engineers, or others associated with your project to participate in the stand-down.
- Consider reviewing your fall prevention program. This will help provide a more effective stand-down.
- What types of falls could happen:
- Falls from ladders
- Falls from a roof
- Falls from a scaffold
- Falls down stairs
- Falls from a structural steel
- Falls through a floor or roof opening
- Falls through a fragile roof surface
- 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 employees? Does it need revision?
- What equipment have you provided to your employees? Is better equipment available?
- What types of falls could happen:
- Develop presentations or activities that will meet your needs. Decide what information will be best for your workplace and employees. The meeting should provide information to employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies, goals and expectations. Hands-on exercises (a worksite walkaround, equipment checks, etc.) can increase retention.
- Decide when to hold the stand-down and how long it will last. Decide if the stand-down will take place over a break, a lunch period, or some other time.
- Promote the stand-down. Try to make it interesting to employees. Some employers find that serving snacks increases participation.
- Hold your stand-down. Try to make it positive and interactive. Let employees talk about their experiences and encourage them to make suggestions.
- Follow up. If you learned something that could improve your fall prevention program, consider making changes.
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 to improve future initiatives like this, please send your email to email@example.com.
Also share your Stand-Down story on social media, with the hashtag: #StandDown4Safety.
If you plan to host a free event that is open to the public, see OSHA’s Events page to submit the event details and to contact your Regional Stand-Down Coordinator.