Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors issued 6,010 fall protection citations in 2019, making it the agency’s most-common violation for the eighth consecutive year. It is well known that most fall protection violations occur in the construction industry. Many agencies are working toward improving tools, education, training, and resources available to increase fall protection and improve safety.
Falls, struck by an object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between are construction’s "Fatal Four." Each year, they are responsible for more than half the construction worker deaths, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction safety experts say eliminating the Fatal Four would save 591 workers' lives in the U.S. every year.
What is a Safety Stand-Down?
Of course, OSHA is on top of fall protection as well. Each year, the federal agency hosts the National Safety Stand-Down, a week-long event to promote diligence on the job site, proper training, and engage with workers on the importance of fall protection and demonstrating effective fall protection. This year, the event is set for May 4-8, 2020. OSHA encourages all workplaces to discuss fall protection, educate themselves on how to keep workers safe and take part in routine training programs to minimize falls at work.
Elizabeth Carpenter, a construction safety professional in New York, said talking with her team and checking on their personal protective equipment regularly was not enough. Using the OSHA stand-down, she actively sought out a new way to educate her team on fall protection and encourage them to work from heights safely.
“I had Honeywell come on-site and perform their fall demonstration at all sites one year,” she said. “It was by far the most effective training I had ever coordinated. It wasn't until (my team) saw first-hand how fast and furious a fall can occur and the consequences of such that everyone suddenly realized why I was always so on top of performing daily harness inspections and using the equipment. If you have any vendor connections that would allow you to have a similar demonstration done onsite, I highly recommend doing so.”
During a safety stand-down, employers and workers pause during their workday for topic talks, demonstrations, and training on how to use safety harnesses, guard rails, and other means to protect workers from falls. Underscoring the importance of this effort, industry and business leaders, including universities, labor organizations, and community and faith-based groups also participate in and promote stand-downs throughout the U.S.
Tools for Safety
OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down website 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, which come in English and other languages. It will also include a list of stand-down events that are free and open to the public.
Workplaces don’t have to wait for events such as the National Safety Stand-Down to be proactive in injury prevention. There are numerous free resources available on fall protection standards and guidelines. Learn more about the rules, which cover the various forms of effective fall protection, key requirements, ladder and construction site safety, and more on OSHA fall protection guidelines and standards. Infographics, guides, and videos help provide workplaces with shareable safety tools to raise awareness of fall hazards through stats, awareness of rules for fall protection equipment, fall protection clearances, and instructions for safely using scaffolding, guardrails, ladders, safety nets, and more.