May 2nd, 2016 9:03 am ET - Elizabeth P. Garza, MPH, CPH; and Christine M. Branche, PhD, FACE
We know falls in the workplace are preventable and yet falls remain the leading cause of death in construction. As part of the effort to prevent falls in construction, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is again partnering with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, among other partners, in the National Safety Stand-Down to be held May 2-6, 2016. The Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about fall hazards and to reinforce the importance of fall prevention requirements.
Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by stopping work and providing a focused toolbox talk on fall prevention, conducting equipment inspections, demonstrating fall protection and procedures, or any number of other activities that educate workers on fall hazards and solutions. . Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace anytime during the week. See Suggestions to Prepare for a Successful Stand-Down and a Day by Day Plan with ideas for activities that could be done each day. If interested in obtaining some hard hat stickers with the fall campaign logo on them, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New this year – Harness, a campaign partner that provides modern solutions for managing safety and health, developed a new mobile app that gives contractors and workers easy access to Stand-Down materials from stopconstructionfalls.com and beyond while on the jobsite. The app also allows users to share activities and post photos from their stand-downs. Download it through the Apple or Android app stores, or at nationalsafetystanddown.com.
The National Safety Stand-Down is part of a larger campaign to prevent falls in construction, launched 5 years ago by NIOSH, OSHA, CPWR, and the NORA Construction Sector Council. Additional partners include the American Society of Safety Engineers, the National Construction Safety Executives, the United States Air Force Occupational Safety, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs, and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers. The Stand-Down coincides with National Construction Industry Safety Week, representing a joint construction industry effort to raise awareness of fall protection.
In 2014, a total of 845 fatal on the job injuries were reported among construction workers, more deaths than in any other industry, and the most for this industry sector since 2008 (1). Falls on construction sites are the leading cause of death in construction- 337 fall-related deaths in 2014 (39.9% of all worker deaths in 2014) (2). During 2008–2010 (3), 55% of all fatal falls in construction occurred in the smallest construction establishments (1–10 employees).
Although construction is a high-risk industry for all workers, Hispanic immigrants (20% of the U.S. construction workforce) (4), are at increased risk because of language and cultural barriers to effective safety communication. As the construction workforce grows (up 1.2% to 9.9 million workers in 2015) (5), so does the need for effective safety messages that can overcome any barriers (6). During Stand-Down activities, employers are encouraged to have a Spanish speaker deliver the Stand-Down message to Spanish-speaking employees (simultaneous translation is an alternative).
In the comment section below, tell us how your workplace is working to prevent falls.
Elizabeth P. Garza, MPH, CPH; and Christine M. Branche, PhD, FACE
LCDR Garza is Assistant Coordinator for the Construction Sector in the NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health.
Dr. Branche is Principal Associate Director and Director, Office of Construction Safety and Health.