Falls from heights continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers. National Safety Stand-Down is aimed at raising awareness to prevent falls.
What is a Safety Stand-Down?
A Safety Stand-Down event is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety and raise awareness. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on fall hazards and reinforcing the importance of fall prevention.
Employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards, can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company's safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall and other job hazards they see.
How can my workplace conduct a Safety Stand-Down?
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. See OSHA’s Suggestions to Prepare for a Successful Stand-Down for more ideas.
The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness nationwide to stop fall fatalities and injuries
Every year, hundreds of construction workers lose their lives as the result of a fall. It is a leading cause of death. Roughly 30% of all fatalities that occur in the construction industry are falls from heights ranging from as little as 6 feet to over 30 feet. These deaths could have been prevented with the right training and PPE.
Despite the advancements made in fall protection technology, we continue to see a consistent number of fall deaths and violations of the Fall Protection Standard year after year. For the most part, this can be attributed to a broad gap within a safety and health management system: an ineffective or absent training program.
In an effort to prevent falls in construction, a national safety stand down to prevent falls helps raise awareness, while setting goals and expectations for workers to follow. At the end of the event, a certificate of participation can be provided.
Did you know that employees who utilize fall protection must be trained by a Competent Person?
This person not only has to be “capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them,” but they also must be able to effectively communicate the requirements of the fall protection to all authorized employees.
Does your Competent Person have the tools they need to provide robust Fall Protection training?
Competent Persons are required to have an in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations associated with fall protection as well as the various types of equipment available and how to best apply them in all situations where a fall hazard exists. From the basics of a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) to the more complicated applications of vertical or horizontal lifelines, Competent Persons must know the appropriate time to utilize each piece of equipment and train all authorized users on the correct use.
In addition to understanding what is required to prevent falls, Competent Persons must also understand the requirements around rescuing an employee in the event of a fall. Many rescue plans commonly involve the use of emergency services through calling 911. However, in many cases that has proven to be insufficient.
OSHA requires that employers provide “prompt” rescue for an employee who has sustained a fall, but that cannot always be expected of emergency services. The Competent Person must be educated on alternative ways to rescue employees who have taken a fall.
The Competent Person is crucial to an effective fall protection program, however many Competent Persons lack the knowledge and training required to administer their program and effectively train their authorized employees. The first step to ensuring that you have solid fall protection training is to ensure your training is equipped with the tools they need to properly educate your employees.
Where can I go for more information on building an effective fall protection training program?
OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with the National Safety Stand-Down, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council and the U.S. Air Force.