On average, there are more than 100 worker fatalities per week (or approximately 14 deaths each day) in the United States according to 2018 data. Out of the total number of worker fatalities, more than 20% (or one in five deaths) are from the construction industry.
So, what is the leading cause behind construction-related work fatalities? If you guessed falls, you are correct. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls from elevation accounted for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities in 2018. Behind falls, being struck by an object, electrocuted, or caught in or between equipment, objects or materials are additional top factors. Together, these leading causes are what is known in the construction industry as the “Fatal Four.”
Because falls are the most hazardous element of the construction industry, each year the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in partnership with additional safety organizations host the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.
What is the Background on National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction?
National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction was first introduced on Workers Memorial Day in 2012 in remembrance of those who have been killed or injured by their job. The voluntary event was originally planned to continue annually for two years with the goal of raising awareness of fall fatalities and injuries along with reducing the risk of these preventable accidents.
However, due to the massive success of National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, it has since become an annual event that occurs each May surrounding the launch of construction’s busy season. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s seventh annual event was rescheduled to Monday, Sept. 14 – Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Now, more than 150 public events are held each year across the 50 states as well as internationally. Since its introduction six years ago, OSHA’s fall prevention Stand-Down events have reached more than 10 million industry workers.
Who Can Participate in a Stand-Down Event?
Construction is the number one at-risk industry for falls while on the job, however, there are many others that can and should participate in a Stand-Down event. For example, additional industries such as manufacturing, transportation and agriculture regularly require employees to work from elevated heights. OSHA encourages any company that is potentially impacted by falls to host a Stand-Down event. In the past, OSHA has seen a wide variety of participants including construction companies, contractors, the U.S. Military, unions, trade associations, safety equipment manufacturers and many more.
Additionally, a Stand-Down event can be held no matter the size of your company, with approximately half hosted by small businesses with 25 employees or less. In fact, small business participation is particularly important. According to data from the Center for Construction Research and Training, 61% of fatal falls in construction happened in companies with 10 employees or fewer between 2011-2015.
What Are Common Examples of Stand-Down Events?
There are a myriad of ways to conduct a Stand-Down event, and employers are encouraged to consider what will work best to fit their particular needs. You may choose to host one event, or provide ongoing training throughout the week of Sept. 14-18. In light of COVID-19, OSHA asks employers to ensure that events are held while practicing safe social distancing in small groups or even virtually.
Here are some popular examples on how to host a Stand-Down event:
- Conduct a safety demonstration on fall protection equipment.
- Host a toolbox talk (or informal group discussion) on fall-related hazards.
- Hold a training session on your company’s safety policies, goals and expectations.
- Lead a safety inspection with employees.
- Develop a rescue plan.
- Show a safety video.
How Do I Prepare for a Stand-Down Event?
OSHA provides step-by-step instructions to help you prepare for a successful event, which include:
- Start early and designate a Stand-Down coordinator to organize your event(s).
- In addition to jobsite workers, invite all relevant stakeholders involved in your business to participate (for example, subcontractors, architects and engineers).
- Review your current fall prevention efforts. Consider what falls could happen, what training and equipment you have already provided, and what areas could use improvement.
- Decide what type of event will work best for your particular needs, whether it be a presentation, video or hands-on activity. Tip: hands-on activities such as a jobsite inspection or safety equipment check can help with employees’ retention of the information.
- Choose when and for how long to hold your event, such as during a break, lunch or scheduling another designated time. Events can range from as simple as 15 minutes to several hours over the course of the week depending on your preference and needs.
- Promote your Stand-Down event to employees in the medium they prefer to receive information (for instance, in-person, via email or through flyers). Tip: offering snacks has shown to increase event participation. You can also submit your free public event to be featured on OSHA’s website and see what other events are happening in your area.
- Hold your event and create a positive, safe space for employees to engage by asking questions and offering suggestions along the way.
- Finally, implement learnings from your Stand-Down event into your current policies and procedures to make your work environment even safer moving forward.
What Materials Are Available to Help With My Stand-Down Event?
Since our founding in 1999, National Safety Compliance has been committed to providing affordable, reliable and effective training products for American workers—including fall safety. Designed to help employers comply with OSHA regulations, our safety training programs can help companies reduce workplace accidents.
With plenty of easy-to-use, cost-effective options, we have a variety of resources to assist with your Stand-Down event, such as:
- Fall Protection Safety Trainings: Easily train new employees or provide a refresher with a host of digital tools including a 26-minute fall protection safety video, PowerPoint presentation, employee quiz and additional materials. You can purchase digital access to the training with flexible rental options of 7 days, 30 days or 1 year. Additionally, digital access in a Spanish version is available. Or, purchase a Fall Protection Training video kit on USB or DVD that provides the same materials in a DVD or USB format that is also presented in an English or Spanish option.
- Fall Protection Training Booklets: This 16-page booklet serves as a complementary resource to our training program. For example, it covers topics such as safety nets, covers, safety monitor systems, falling object hazards and more.
Additionally, OSHA offers a host of resources to assist with your Stand-Down event. Assets include the following in a variety of languages such as English, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese:
- Fact Sheets
- Lesson Plans
What Do I Do After My Stand-Down Event?
Participants are encouraged to share their Stand-Down events with #StandDown4Safety on social media. After completing your Stand-Down event, employers can download a certificate of recognition from the U.S. Department of Labor to acknowledge the time and effort spent improving fall safety within their company. The page to download your certificate will become active beginning Sept. 14 on OSHA’s website.
Want More Information?
If you would like additional information on this year’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, visit the FAQ page. If you have questions or need assistance on how National Safety Compliance’s fall protection products can help with your Stand-Down event, contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 877-922-7233, commenting below, or using our simple chat function on our website.