Stand-Down for Safety: Fall Protection Awareness
Fatalities from falls continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers. They account for 351 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2020. But these deaths were preventable through hazard elimination, training, and use of fall protection equipment. Employers and workers can participate in the National Safety Stand-Down to help raise awareness of fall hazards and prevent fatalities and injuries.
“Workers suffer serious and fatal injuries from falls and have a devastating impact on families and businesses,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health James Frederick. “This important collaboration with the construction industry encourages employers to learn how to better control fall-related hazards and improve their safety and health programs.”
OSHA has partnered with several other organizations to provide resources and information for the National Safety Stand-Down, which occurs May 2-6, 2022. Any company related to the construction industry can take part in this stand-down.
What is a safety stand-down?
A safety stand-down is a voluntary event for employers to talk to their workers about safety. The National Safety Stand-Down is focused on fall protection and fall hazards, but companies can take this time to review any safety protocols pertinent to their work.
During the stand-down, companies take a break or some time to provide additional training on fall protection or review current fall protection procedures. The stand-down can last from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the company’s plans. It provides an opportunity for workers to share their concerns with employers and remind workers of fall protection procedures.
The stand-down can be focused on other potential hazards if your company isn’t exposed to fall hazards.
The program began as a two-year effort in 2012 to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction. It was so successful, it has been repeated every year since. Tens of thousands of employers nationwide and more than a million workers participate each year.
Why is fall protection important?
Besides the prevalence of worksite deaths in the construction industry caused by falls, fall protection has been the number one cited OSHA violation for several years. Deaths and injuries by falls are considered to be preventable. Investigations reveal that incidents were caused by a violation of established standards. Proper training could have prevented many of these deaths and injuries. The National Safety Stand-Down seeks to ensure that all workers have the training and equipment they need to safely work from height.
Who can participate?
Anyone who wants to prevent fall hazards or improve awareness of safety can participate in the national stand-down. Besides contractors, past participants included highway construction companies, general industry employers, the military, unions, trade associations, and safety equipment manufacturers.
Planning your safety stand-down
OSHA has provided some guidelines to help you plan for your company’s safety stand-down.
1. Start early
Choose someone to coordinate your stand-down activities. If you have multiple worksites, identify a person or team that will lead the stand-down at each site.
2. Invite participants
Consider inviting subcontractors, owners, architects, engineers, or others associated with the project to participate.
3. Review your fall protection program
Before the stand-down, review your current fall protection program focusing on the following:
- What types of falls could happen? Ladders, roofs, scaffolding, stairs, structural steel, floor or roof openings, fragile roof surface, etc.
- What needs improvement? Is your program meeting its goals? Are employees aware of the company’s fall protection procedures?
- What training have you provided to your employees? Does it need revising?
- What equipment have you provided to your employees? Is better equipment available?
4. Determine activities or presentations
Decide what information you will present to your employees. It can include information about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies, goals, and expectations. Hands-on exercises can help increase retention.
5. Decide on a schedule for your stand-down
Decide when to hold the standdown and how long it will last. You may choose to have it over a break, a lunch period, or some other time. It can be held on one day or over multiple days.
6. Promote the stand-down
Let workers know of your plans for the national stand-down. Try to make it interesting for employees. Serving snacks may increase participation.
7. Hold your stand-down
Make it positive and interactive. Encourage a dialogue between workers and employers to help improve your safety program.
Consider making changes to your fall prevention program based on what you learned from employee feedback during the standdown.
- Review your fall protection program (or develop one if needed)
- Inspect fall protection equipment
- Provide fall protection training
- Job site walk to identify hazards
- Personal fall arrest systems demonstration
- Toolbox talks regarding fall prevention and safety
OSHA and their partners have provided a variety of resources to use during the stand-down. Resources include information on OSHA’s fall prevention campaign, a training guide for employers, ladder safety guidelines, scaffolding guidelines, information in Spanish, and publications provided by OSHA’s partners in the stand-down. The CDC site has infographics and videos. For more information about the National Safety Stand-Down, see OSHA’s webpage. Additional resources, such as toolbox talks, hard hat stickers, and hazard alert cards, can be found at StopConstructionFalls.com.