Friday, January 13, 2017, brought more than a stroke of bad luck for people on the University of Kentucky campus; it also brought a tragedy. A construction worker was working on a roof and plunged 30 feet to his death from a campus building. Construction on the project came to a standstill, and anyone who witnessed or was near the incident will undoubtedly remember it for the rest of their lives. For the family and friends of the victim, their lives are forever altered. While OSHA is investigating the incident, one aspect came through in the news conference: police reported that the victim was not wearing a harness.
If nothing else, OSHA wants employers and workers to remember that fatal falls, like this one, are highly preventable. This sentiment is recognized annually during OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down, to be held May 8-12, 2017. The event charges construction employers with taking a pause from work in order to hold training activities so that in turn, falls are minimized. OSHA encourages them to take time to discuss fall protection, educate themselves on how to stay safe, and participate in training programs.
Falls Can Be Fatal—the Numbers
According to OSHA, falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities recorded in 2015. Before a fall becomes a fatality, OSHA works hard to cite ways to avoid worker deaths, and in doing so, agency inspectors issued 7,402 fall protection citations in 2015, the most common violation for the fifth consecutive year. The Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.
What Exactly is a Safety Stand-Down?
A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to meet and talk directly to employees about safety. According to OSHA, “Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on "Fall Hazards" and reinforcing the importance of "Fall Prevention." It's an opportunity for employers to have a conversation with employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company's safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall hazards they see.”
Tools for Safety
Graphic Products produced an infographic on fall safety called OSHA Fall Protection Guidelines and Standards. Designed to be a shareable safety tool, this infographic works to raise awareness of fall hazards through stats, awareness of rules for fall protection equipment, and instructions for safely using scaffolding, guardrails, ladders, safety nets, and more.
As well as an infographic on fall safety, the company also offers a complimentary infographic on fall protection clearances. This helps employers and crews to determine exactly what kind of fall protection is needed, for exactly what height, in an easy-to-understand illustrated manner.