Tens of thousands of employers and more than 1 million workers across the country are expected to join OSHA this week in safety stand-downs to focus on preventing fatalities from falls. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, with hundreds of workers dying each year and thousands more facing serious injuries.
Lack of fall protection is also the most frequently cited OSHA violation, proving that these deaths are preventable when employers provide the right safety equipment and properly train workers how to use it. Starting June 2 and continuing throughout the week, a record number of companies and workers around the country are voluntarily stopping work to talk about fall prevention. Stand-Down participants are encouraged to share their experiences on Twitter by using #StandDown4Safety and tagging @USDOL.
"This is an unprecedented event. Tens of thousands of employers and hundreds of thousands of workers across the country have joined our campaign to save lives and prevent fatal falls in the construction industry," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "The economy is on the rebound, housing starts are on the rise and the summer construction season is getting underway. Now is the time to focus on this vital safety issue and make sure all construction workers come home at the end of every workday."
Throughout the weeklong stand-down, employers and workers will pause during their workday to focus on the hazards of falls and preventing them. Industry and business leaders, including universities, labor organizations, and community and faith-based groups, have scheduled stand-downs in all 50 states and across the world. For example, the University of Texas at Arlington is joining OSHA staff and Balfour Beatty Construction to kick off events across the state of Texas. Clark Construction Group LLC will also host a stand-down at the Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif. While on Wednesday, June 4, NASCAR race car driver Greg Biffle will be at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., to demonstrate fall protection at the facility, which is currently under construction. In addition, the U.S. Air Force will be hosting fall stand-downs at bases worldwide.
"Falls cause immense pain and suffering when they happen, and we must do everything we can to stop them," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "The good news is that they are preventable with three easy steps: the best protection is to plan ahead, ensure workers have the right equipment and train each worker to use it."
The National Safety stand down is part of OSHA's fall prevention campaign, launched two years ago with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda and The Center for Construction Research and Training.
"Preventing falls benefits everyone, from the worker, to the employer, to the community at large. This safety Stand-Down serves as an important opportunity for everyone to take the time to learn how to recognize and prevent fall hazards," said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard.
The National Safety Stand-Down website 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.