Falls on construction sites are the leading cause of death in the industry, accounting for 37 percent of total fatalities. According to NIOSH, most of these deaths are preventable.
According to OSHA, among general industry workers, falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths.
Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 370 of the 991 construction fatalities recorded in 2016 (BLS data). OSHA says those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.
What is the National Safety Stand-Down?
Thousands of employers and millions of employees are expected to participate in the fourth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, May 7-11. The national safety awareness campaign is a combined effort spearheaded by OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).
The 2018 Stand-Down is a voluntary opportunity for employers to speak directly to their workers about fall hazards. The event encourages public and private sector, small and large business employers to stop work and dedicate time to openly discuss fall hazards and how to prevent them with their workers.
To guide the efforts, OSHA has developed the official National Safety Stand-Down web site for conducting successful stand-downs all the way down to the local level. The web site offers access to free training and education resources in English and Spanish and a personalized certificate of participation.
Millions of contractors and workers participating in the Safety Stand-Down across all 50 states and overseas bring a level of support from industry that adds real value. Both large companies and small companies, even those with a handful of workers – who often are at the highest risk for falls – can feel like they are part of something even bigger by taking advantage of the many Stand-Down resources, fall-related materials and other support that partners are willing to provide leading up to and during the event.
What can be done to reduce falls?
Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.
To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
- Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
OSHA requires employers to:
- Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
Use Visual Cues for Safety
Stop-Painting offers safety signs designed to work with employee training and safety demonstrations. Having good visual safety signs can serve as constant reminders of the safety protocols required by employees. Order some safety signs from our inventory or use our online custom sign tool to create the exact sign you’re looking for.
Here’s a few of our top visual cues available, relating to preventing falls.
How to Participate
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 May 7-11, 2018. See Suggestions to Prepare for a Successful “Stand-Down” and Highlights from the Past Stand-Downs. OSHA also hosts an Events page with events that are free and open to the public to help employers and employees find events in your area.
You can share your Stand-Down story on social media, with the hashtag: #StandDown4Safety.