Thousands of employers and potentially millions of employees are expected to participate in the fourth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction during the week of May 8-12, a combined effort by OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), among other partners.

Falls on construction sites are the leading cause of death in the industry, accounting for 37 percent of total fatalities. These deaths are entirely preventable.

“It is through this combined effort and commitment among many partners, employers and workers that the National Safety Stand-Down has been successful in its reach, and we look forward to the continued investment demonstrated in support of fall prevention,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Having a vested interest in standing down operations and taking a moment to emphasize worker safety combats a preventable public health problem and promotes a positive work culture.”

The 2017 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.

 Between 2014 and 2016, OSHA issued more than 10,000 certificates of participation for stand-downs involving more than 2 million workers. The United States Air Force tracked the participation of 1 million of their workers in both 2015 and 2016, and there are likely millions more who have participated in stand-down efforts without being tracked.

The National Safety Stand-Down has an impact on fall prevention and on the awareness and education of millions of workers in construction, yet more work remains to be done. New participating companies will receive a certificate of completion, while returning participants will be presented with the next certification level.

“In an industry like construction, where workers change companies and jobsites regularly, it is important to reinforce lessons in fall prevention year after year,” said CPWR Executive Director Chris Trahan Cain. “With that in mind, we would encourage companies who have participated in past stand-downs to join us once again, and companies who are new to the event to make this year the first of many.”

Something Bigger: Preventing Falls  

The National Safety Stand-Down is part of a larger campaign to prevent falls in construction, launched five years ago by NIOSH, OSHA, CPWR and the NORA Construction Sector Council. Additional partners include the American Society for Safety Engineers (ASSE), National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the United States Air Force Occupational Safety, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers.

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.

Safway Group, a leader in scaffolding, access and industrial services and long-time Stand-Down partner, has demonstrated the importance of building a strong culture of safety within a company through conversation and discussion: 

“Open communication and feedback is essential to creating a culture of safety,” says Bill Hayes, president and CEO of Safway Group. “The National Safety Stand-Down is an opportunity for Safway Group to improve communication at every one of our job sites across North America, advancing and reinforcing our safety culture, along with other companies and thought leaders across the industry.”

Participants, like the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), acknowledge the value of training, reinforcement and cutting-edge solutions:

“ISEA’s fall protection members recognize the importance of comprehensive, relevant and practical solutions that will result in meaningful protection of the nation’s workforce from fall hazards, and actively participate in the Fall Safety Stand Down,” said ISEA President Daniel K. Shipp. “They routinely create new fall protection solutions, including custom configurations, using modern technology for a wide array of workplace fall hazards.”

Resources

NIOSH and its partners encourage all employers and workers who face fall hazards on the job to participate in this year’s Stand-Down and use the resources and information available to them to protect their workers from falls. Whether in residential, commercial, highway or other types of construction, or in government or non-construction fields, the Stand-Down offers the time and resources to help raise awareness about fall prevention.  

OSHA’s official National Safety Stand-Down web site helps plan successful stand-downs and 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. Here, participants can also order free 2017 Stand-Down posters.

Previous participants have used these web resources to conduct trainings, demonstrations, toolbox talks, drills and practices, lunchtime presentations, meetings, equipment inspections, webinars and video presentations. The OSHA web site also will include a list of Stand-Down events free and open to the public, as they become available.

For more information on the campaign to prevent falls in construction, ideas for ready-to-go tool boxes and to order free hard hat stickers, visit CPWR’s web site: www.stopconstructionfalls.com.

The NIOSH fall campaign site features several videos promoting fall prevention, as well as NIOSH-CPWR infographics that can be used to promote the Stand-Down. NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/.