Safety Stand-Down Focuses on Falls
Professionals across the construction industry will take part in the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction this week (May 8-12), taking action to educate workers about the importance of fall protection on jobsites.
The Safety Stand-Down is an annual awareness event put together by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training and NIOSH, as well as partners throughout the construction industry. As part of the campaign, work crews are encouraged to stop work for some kind of educational talk, equipment inspection or other safety activity underscoring the importance or fall prevention.
According to CPWR, tens of thousands of companies across the United States participate yearly, with fall-prevention education reaching millions of workers.
Industrial-painting and infrastructure industry partners on the campaign include the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the National Asphalt Pavement Association and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. A number of safety-services suppliers and consultants are also official partners, including Safway, Ellis Fall Safety Solutions and the International Safety Equipment Association, an industry group for the safety industry.
ARTBA offers a number of resources aimed at helping to prevent fall accidents on bridge jobsites. These include its fact sheet, “Fall Protection for Bridge Contractors in Four Main Steps,” a fall-protection training record sheet, and a sample fall protection plan for contractors. These and other resources are available here.
The ISEA is offering an updated version of its Personal Fall Protection Equipment Use and Selection Guide in time for the Safety Stand-Down. The publication includes information on safety standards and regulations regarding fall protection, as well as an index of safety equipment manufacturers.
"Safety is a shared responsibility between the employer and the employee, and the Safety Stand-Down week provides a valuable platform to have those crucial discussions about making the workplace safer," said Anton Ruesing, director of the IUPAT Finishing Trades Institute. "While working safely reduces claims and injuries and lowers insurance costs, it is not always about the money, and fortunately most companies realize that we all have a responsibility to look out for each other. Unfortunately, there are still unsafe job sites out there, and that's what makes initiatives like Safety Stand-Down so important."
Other Construction Participants
A number of industry groups and companies across the commercial and residential construction industries are participating in the Safety Stand-Down as well.
The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association has thrown its support behind the campaign, which notes that falls are the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities in the construction industry.
“We know roofing professionals are highly skilled and know to take every precaution while working at high elevations, but sometimes they need a reminder to do so,” said Reed Hitchcock, executive vice president of ARMA. “We encourage our members to observe National Safety Stand-Down in order to minimize accidents in the workplace by raising awareness of an important issue that impacts the entire roofing industry.”
Other associations and labor groups partnering on the initiative include the Association of General Contractors, National Association of Home Builders, The Association of Union Contractors and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers.
OSHA and Fall Protection
Fall protection was the top source of OSHA violations issued during fiscal year 2016, the fifth consecutive year it topped the agency’s enforcement list. The agency updated its Walking-Working Surfaces standard last year, and that revised standard became effective in January. PaintSquare blogger Eric Conn, an attorney who specializes in OSHA-related cases, explains the practical implications of the new revision here.
OSHA estimates the new standard will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually.