The National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2014 as part of the National Falls Campaign to raise awareness surrounding the magnitude of fall hazards in construction and the importance of preventing them.
The stand-down takes place May 2-6 this year. To assist with the effort, OSHA partners with employers and significant safety organizations, including the following:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)
- OSHA approved State Plans and State Consultation Programs
- Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR)
- American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP)
- National Safety Council (NSC)
- National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE)
- U.S. Air Force
- OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers
Each year, fall safety is the most frequently cited OSHA breach. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2018. Those deaths were preventable, and this national campaign brings much-needed attention to the matter.
The word “safety stand-down” is used in the construction industry to describe various activities in which regular work halts and the entire site focuses on a specific safety problem. Staff should also be able to speak with management about any fall hazards they notice.
What is a Safety Stand-Down?
A safety stand-down is a voluntary event where employers will speak directly to workers about workplace safety. This stand-down emphasizes “Fall Hazards” and the value of “Fall Prevention.”
Companies may hold a safety stand-down by taking a break for a toolbox talk or another safety activity like inspecting safety equipment, designing rescue plans, or reviewing job-specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to schedule a stand-down during the first week of May on a day that works best for their company. A stand-down can be short as a 15-minute toolbox talk or many hours of training throughout the week.
You do not need to register to participate. Just organize a stand-down with your staff, notify OSHA, and you can obtain a certificate of participation following the incident. Also, use the hashtag #StandDown4Safety to post your stand-down story on social media.
Who Can Take Part?
The stand-down is open to anyone who wants to help prevent workplace hazards. Participants include small and large construction firms, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, trade unions, manufacturers, and safety equipment.
Three Steps to Hold Your Stand-Down:
- Make preparations ahead of time. Plan the stand-down ahead of time to get the most out of the staff. Job sites operate on rigid schedules and tight deadlines, so it’s essential to plan ahead of time to accommodate all jobs. TIP: Provide lunch as a reward for participation.
- Cover the basics. Choose a theme for the stand-down. Make the subject relevant to the current priorities on the job site, such as scaffolding, ladders, or roofing protection.
- Hold your stand-down. Present the information to the staff and keep it short and straightforward. Visual aids or hands-on exercises may be used, such as putting on a harness or testing a ladder/scaffold. TIP: Digitally disseminating safety information (via email or text).
A safety stand-down is an optional event that allows workers to speak directly with employees about fall hazards and the importance of fall prevention.
Since OSHA started holding fall prevention stand-down events seven years ago, their message that falls are preventable has reached nearly 10 million workers. These initiatives are successful in the public understanding of the importance of recognizing, evaluating, and controlling fall hazards.