According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls account for more than a third of construction-related deaths. Whether a fall is deadly or not, it is a completely preventable accident that can have devastating consequences for your team. One way to support your site’s goal of zero accidents is to participate in OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down event.
What is National Safety Stand-Down?
To raise awareness of fall prevention and safety, OSHA hosts the annual National Safety Stand-Down at the beginning of May. The term “stand-down” means stopping work in response to a pressing issue. In the construction field, the term has broadened from this intervention-focused mindset to a more preventative one.
This voluntary event, which OSHA and its sponsors have put on every year since 2014, offers an excellent opportunity for construction businesses to discuss fall hazards and prevention with their employees. During the Safety Stand-Down, employees can also take the floor to raise questions or concerns, and employers can explain or review protective equipment, methods, and site-specific goals. Should you choose to host a Safety Stand-Down, OSHA recommends that you invite your entire on-site team, including subcontractors, engineers, and management, to ensure that fall safety is prioritized at every level. OSHA also provides resources from previous Stand-Downs, making it easy to organize a comprehensive program regardless of your company’s size or specialty.
Safety Stand-Down for Fall Prevention Ideas
Because the National Safety Stand-Down is broadly focused on fall and accident prevention, its materials can be easily modified to fit the needs of any organization. If your team is already working to address deficits with a corrective action plan, then a Safety Stand-Down is the perfect time to update your team on new procedures or recommendations. It is also a chance to reflect on successes and improvements that you and your team have made over time. Generally, OSHA recommends that your Stand-Down also cover the following areas:
Review Current Fall Protection Program
Make sure that your company’s current fall protection program is up to date and clearly communicated to your employees and contractors. Ensure that all types of falls are covered and that your company is meeting its fall protection goals.
Most organizations consider their training and procedures to be sufficient, but the data is clear: each year, inadequate fall protection tops OSHA’s list of most common citations.
If your review uncovers any issues or concerns, make sure they are addressed in a timely manner. Consider an audit of your safety procedures and make sure to update your team if serious problems or concerns arise.
Inspect Fall Protection PPE
PPE is an essential part of your fall safety strategy, both as a preventative measure and as a way to mitigate the consequences of a mistake or accident. Fall PPE can include harnesses, non-slip shoes, lanyards, temporary anchor points, and anything else that is needed at your site, depending on available equipment and your current project requirements.
A Stand-Down is the perfect opportunity to re-inspect your PPE, assess deficits, and review proper usage with your team. It also gives your crew a chance to bring any inadequacies that they have noticed or experienced to your attention.
Offer Fall Prevention Training
A quick refresh on fall prevention can be simple, like a toolbox talk, or more involved if your policies are changing. Many employers opt for annual fall protection update training, either through online classes, such as those offered at OSHAEducationCenter.com, or from third-party safety consultants. Remember: all new hires should have completed fall protection training before their first day of work. Regardless of a crew member’s usual role, they should all be equally knowledgeable on safety issues.
As one of the most commonly reported workplace accidents, a slip or fall can also be one of the most costly and injurious. From a productivity and profitability perspective, fall prevention training has a high return on investment. Organizations that are proactive about addressing the issue can avoid OSHA fines, employee injuries, equipment damage, and lost time.
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Prioritize Fall Prevention This Month
While your organization should be quick to respond to any accidents that do happen, the old saying is true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Even if your team is on top of their trainings, certifications, and procedures, the best time to take action and assess potential issues is now.
OSHA encourages yearly participation in the Safety Stand-Down, even offering a Certificate of Participation to organizations that host their own event. Don’t worry if you missed the early May timeframe that OSHA uses; the material covered in a Safety Stand-Down is always relevant.
Keep your team updated on the procedures and equipment they rely on each day, and address necessary changes at your site by scheduling a Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down this month.