More than 1 million workers and 25,000 businesses will participate in this week’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, OSHA leaders said Monday.
During a conference call to kick off the national fall prevention stand-down, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and OSHA Administrator David Michaels asserted that the weeklong focus on fall safety is “unprecedented” in its scope.
“Never before have we been able to reach such a large number of people with a single worker safety initiative, and it couldn’t come at a more vital time,” Perez told reporters. “With the economy recovering and housing starts on the rise, this is the moment to ensure that no one has to lose their life in order to make a living. The summer construction season is underway as we speak. Now is the moment to make sure that those who build our homes are able to return safe and sound to their own homes every night.”
As part of the national stand-down, employers across the country will pause work to discuss fall hazards and fall prevention measures.
Among the stand-down events taking place this week:
- The University of Texas at Arlington joined OSHA staff members and Balfour Beatty Construction to kick off events across the state of Texas Monday.
- Clark Construction Group will host a stand-down at the Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
- On Wednesday, NASCAR driver Greg Biffle will be at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., to demonstrate fall protection at the facility, where a massive renovation project is underway.
- The U.S. Air Force will be hosting fall stand-downs at bases worldwide.
- In Dorchester, Mass., YouthBuild Boston and OSHA’s Braintree Area Office will host a stand-down targeted toward young workers.
- Maryland OSHA is hosting six stand-down events across the state. “So many people called to register that the organizers had to add more activities to accommodate the high demand,” Michaels noted.
“With this stand-down, we are reaching more workers, more businesses and a wider variety of workplaces than ever before,” Michaels told reporters.
Safety Pays, Falls Cost
Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and fall prevention is among the most frequently cited OSHA standards. However, OSHA leaders emphasized that injuries and fatalities from falls are preventable.
“We emphasize planning ahead and providing the right equipment: guardrails, safety harnesses, lines and anchors, and training all employees,” Michaels said. “These simple steps can save lives. Whether working on roofs or scaffolds, climbing ladders or performing any work from heights, falls can be prevented with the right equipment and training.”
Michaels noted that the stand-downs will incorporate OSHA training materials such as its fall prevention training guide, which includes guidance for conducting toolbox talks. Other OSHA resources include fact sheets, posters, stickers and videos, which are available in English and Spanish. Some of the materials are available in Polish, Russian and Portuguese as well.
“All of our materials reinforce the message that safety pays and falls cost,” Michaels said.
To underscore his point, Michaels cited data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance showing that the average cost of a fall-related workers’ compensation case is nearly $100,000.
“Compensation costs for one serious fall could put a small company out of business,” Michaels said.
Michaels and Perez emphasized that this week’s stand-down is a collaborative effort between OSHA and NIOSH, state-plan states, the Center for Construction Research and Training, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the National Safety Council, the Associated General Contractors of America and a number of other organizations.
“Working with labor unions, business leaders, community groups, universities and safety and health professionals, we can make a real difference in preventing falls,” Perez said. “We can stand down for safety and we can save lives.”