The National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2014 as part of the National Falls Campaign to raise awareness surrounding the magnitude of fall hazards in construction and the importance of preventing them.
The Stand-Down takes place May 3-7 this year. To assist with the effort, OSHA partners with employers and key safety organizations, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, state consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council (NSC), the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.
Each year, fall safety is the most frequently cited OSHA breach. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2018. Those deaths were preventable, and this national campaign brings much-needed attention to the matter.
The word “safety stand-down” is used in the construction industry to describe various activities in which regular work is halted, and the entire site is focused on a specific safety problem. Staff should also be able to speak with management about any fall hazards they notice.
What Is a Safety Stand-Down?
A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event in which employers will speak directly to workers about workplace safety. The emphasis of this Stand-Down is on “Fall Hazards” and the value of “Fall Prevention.”
Companies may hold a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break for a Toolbox Talk or another safety activity like inspecting safety equipment, designing rescue plans, or reviewing job-specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to schedule a stand-down during the week of May 3-7 that works best for their company. A Stand-Down can be as short as a 15-minute toolbox talk or as long as many hours of training spread out throughout the week.
You do not need to register to participate in the Stand-Down because it is free. Organize a Stand-Down with your staff from May 3 to 7. Then notify OSHA about your Stand-Down and obtain a certificate of participation following the incident. Also, use the hashtag #StandDown4Safety to post your Stand-Down story on social media.
Who Can Take Part?
The stand-down is open to anyone who wants to help prevent workplace hazards. Participants include small and large construction firms, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, trade unions, manufacturers, and safety equipment.
Three Steps to Hold Your Stand-Down:
- Make preparations ahead of time. To get the most out of the staff, plan the stand-down ahead of time. Jobsites operate on rigid schedules and tight deadlines, so it’s important to plan ahead of time to accommodate all jobs. TIP: Provide lunch as a reward for participation.
- Cover the basics. Choose a theme for the stand-down to be centered on. Make the subject relevant to the current priorities on the jobsite, such as scaffolding, ladders, or roofing protection.
- Hold your stand-down. Present the information to the staff and keeping it short and simple. Visual aids or hands-on exercises, such as putting on a harness or testing a ladder/scaffold, may be used. TIP: Digitally disseminating safety information (via email and/or text).
A safety stand-down is an optional event that allows workers to speak directly with employees about fall hazards and the importance of fall prevention.
Since OSHA started holding fall prevention stand-down events seven years ago, their message that falls are preventable has reached nearly 10 million workers. These initiatives have succeeded in the public understanding of the importance of recognizing, evaluating, and controlling fall hazards.