Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, with hundreds of workers dying each year and thousands more facing catastrophic, debilitating injuries. Over the past ten years, nearly 3,500 construction workers died from falls, contributing to almost half of the fall fatalities for all industries combined. Lack of fall protection remains OSHA’s most frequently cited violation.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in a combined effort with OSHA and CPWR - the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), among other partners, announce the second-annual construction Fall Safety Stand-Down during the weeks of May 4-15.
This event follows the success of last year’s stand-down and asks employers and workers across the nation to pause in their work and dedicate time to activities that promote the prevention of fatalities from falls.
“No child should lose a parent, no wife should lose a husband and no worker should lose their life in a preventable fall,” said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard. “The stand-down serves as an important opportunity for worksites to recognize the hazards that cause those falls, and train employers and workers how to avoid them so that these tragedies can be prevented once and for all.”
In recognition of this often-fatal hazard, more than 1 million employers and workers across the country joined the effort last year in a week-long construction Fall Safety Stand-Down, the largest occupational safety event ever hosted in the United States. Building on last year’s unprecedented participation, NIOSH and partners hope to triple these numbers during this year’s stand-down, spanning a period of two weeks in the spring.
“Almost 5,000 stand-downs were reported to OSHA last year, with participation in all 50 states and even some internationally,” said CPWR Executive Director Pete Stafford. “Building on last year’s success, coupled with the addition of new industry partners, I’m very encouraged that together we can reduce the number of fatal falls, which annually account for approximately one-third of all U.S. construction fatalities.”
Due to past success and overwhelming interest, NIOSH, OSHA and their partners will work with employers, workers, industry groups, state OSH plans and civic and faith-based organizations to host safety stand-downs that focus on recognizing hazards and preventing falls. Events will include talks on relevant safety topics, demonstrations and trainings. Leaders of these groups have already begun scheduling 2015 stand-downs in all 50 states and around the world.
“Given the tremendous response we’ve received, it’s clear that this is an important issue to a great number of people across this nation,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “We are so pleased to work towards preventing these tragedies through innovative and collaborative efforts like the Safety Stand-Down.”
The Fall Safety Stand-Down is part of a larger campaign to prevent falls in construction, launched three years ago by NIOSH, OSHA, CPWR and the NORA Construction Sector Council. Additional partners for this year’s stand-down include: American Society for Safety Engineers (ASSE), National Construction Safety Executives, the United States Air Force, the National Safety Council, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers.
“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,” said ASSE President Patricia Ennis. “We urge all 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.”
The Stand-Down also coincides with ASSE’s North American Occupational Safety and Health Week May 3-9, and the National Construction Industry Safety Week May 4-8, representing a joint construction industry effort around fall protection awareness.
“Beyond fall protection, the participating construction and engineering firms are driving home the message that everyone should go home at the end of every shift without incident,” said Charlie Bacon, chair of the National Construction Industry Safety Week. “Collectively the industry is raising awareness and taking a stand around eliminating all injuries within the construction process; we are very pleased that NIOSH is hosting a stand-down during the construction industry's safety week for 2015.”
NIOSH and its partners encourage all employers and workers that face fall hazards on the job to participate in this year’s Stand-Down. The newly launched 2015 National Safety Stand-Down Web page 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 in English and Spanish. It also will include a list of stand-down events that are free and open to the public.