OSHA Expands Stand-Down for Construction Safety

posterAccording to OSHA, more than 3,500 workers in the U.S. have died from falls over the past 10 years. The statistics are even more troubling in the construction industry, where falls account for more than one-third of work-related deaths each year. The hazards of falling from height are well known, yet lack of proper fall protection has long topped OSHA’s annual list of most frequently cited regulatory violations.

To bring attention to this pervasive problem and build awareness of proven solutions, OSHA is again partnering with NIOSH, Center for Construction Research and Training, ASSE and others to hold the second Fall Safety Stand-Down May 4-15, 2015. A safety stand-down is a voluntary event that offers employers a dedicated opportunity to talk directly to employees about safety. Essentially, everyone on a site stops work and actively engages in discussing effective ways to work safely. As one participant from the 2014 Stand-Down explains, “It allows everyone to take an extra moment to come together for discussion about safety. We practice it daily as a crew, but when everyone is forced to stop what they are doing to discuss the importance of safety, it seems to take on a larger impact.”

OSHA’s first National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction in 2014 reportedly reached more than 1 million workers and thousands of employers. For 2015, the stand-down has been extended to 2 weeks. OSHA is hoping for more than 20,000 stand-downs, which the agency estimates would reach 3 million workers—or 4 out of every 10 construction workers in the U.S.—with the important message of avoiding fall hazards.

Industry groups such as ASSE have been strong supporters of OSHA’s efforts to stop preventable falls on the job. The Society has been part of the agency’s Plan-Prevent-Train campaign that was launched in 2012, and is working with OSHA to promote the 2015 Stand-Down. “As the economy continues to grow and the need for construction workers increases, we hope the Stand-Down will remind employers and workers that fall prevention is an important part of every workplace safety plan,” says 2014-15 ASSE President Patricia Ennis, CSP, ARM. “We urge all of our members to use this opportunity to reach out to employers in every industry to create safer work environments by participating in this year’s Stand-Down and continuing to help prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.”

As secretariat of the ANSI Z359 Accredited Standards Committee that oversees the widely used Z359 Fall Protection Code, ASSE has a long history of working to prevent work-related falls. The Fall Protection Code contains more than 10 national consensus standards that offer employers an overall blueprint for preventing falls from heights. To help employers build their knowledge of proven preventive measures, ASSE offers the first standard in the series, ANSI/ASSE Z359.0-2012, Definitions and Nomenclature Used for Fall Protection and Fall Arrest, as a free download.