Preventing falls and promoting safety with National Safety Stand-Down Week, May 3-7

Preventing falls and promoting safety with National Safety Stand-Down Week

May 3-7

Spearheaded by the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Safety Stand-Down Week takes place each year at the beginning of May. For the past eight years, OSHA has used this event to raise awareness and promote safety measures in fields and industries prone to fall hazards such as construction, welding, plumbing, and roofing.

According to the American Society of Safety Professionals, "working at elevations can be dangerous because it exposes workers to substantial risks, including structure collapses, slipping through openings, and being struck by falling objects." The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that falls from elevation resulting in fatalities remain to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 401 of the 1,061 construction fatalities recorded in 2019.

National Safety Stand-Down Week encourages employers and employees across the county to work to eliminate fall injuries and fatalities through education and safety training.

How does a company conduct a Safety Stand-Down?

It is easy and worthwhile to hold a Safety Stand-Down talk. This voluntary event will provide an opportunity for employers and managers to speak directly to staff about fall hazards and fall prevention while also brushing up on safety measures in the workplace. Companies with work areas not prone to fall hazards can still hold a Safety Stand-Down talk to go over safe practices specific to their operations. Additionally, this type of meeting can open up dialogue between the employees and employer about safety issues commonly encountered on the job and how to address them. Employers are encouraged to provide feedback to the United States Department of Labor on their Safety Stand-Down event and download a Certificate of Participation to display at their workplace.

Can anyone participate?

Yes! Any person committed to preventing hazards at their workplace can participate, even if they do not directly encounter the issues themselves. Supervisors can plan a Stand-Down event that works for their daily operations and should incorporate safety measures specific to their industry. These measures could include developing rescue plans and conducting examinations of equipment. According to the OSHA website, “In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer's trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.”

How to prepare for a Successful Stand-Down

  • Designate a point person. Appoint a knowledgeable staff member or supervisor to organize the stand-down. If a business has multiple work sites or a large body of employees, identify a team to lead talks during Stand-Down Week.
  • Include everyone who could benefit. Top-level executives, engineers, architects, subcontractors, or anyone else who associates with the business can all benefit from a Stand-Down event.
  • Tailor the presentation to fit the safety needs of the company. Aside from fall prevention, determine what information is best to share with employees and contractors. The meeting should include specific information about the personal protective equipment used, hazards faced, and current company safety policies.
  • Provide snacks, open discussion, and follow-up. Holding the meeting during working hours will provide an opportunity for employees to take a break, have some food and drink, and learn something new. Allow time for open discussion and follow up with a company-wide email or memo to answer post-event concerns or questions.

A safe environment is a happy and profitable environment!

Providing education and taking measures to reduce falls and other occupational hazards is vital to the long-term profitability of a company. Employees who feel cared for by their employer will be motivated to work hard and practice safety measures themselves, creating a positive, rewarding environment for everyone.