The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center for Construction Research and Training are sponsoring the fourth annual “National Safety Stand-Down” on May 8-12, 2017.
The event is a weeklong outreach program to help encourage safety conversations between employers and employees, with the goal of reducing the risk of falls and their related injuries and deaths in the construction industry.
What Is a National Safety Stand-Down?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fatal injuries among construction and extraction occupations rose by two percent in 2015, from 899 to a total of 924 cases. “Several construction occupations recorded their highest fatality total in years,” the BLS stated, “including construction laborers (highest since 2008); carpenters (2009); electricians (2009); and plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters (2003).”
It’s these types of injuries that safety organizations hope to reduce with the National Safety Stand-Down. This voluntary event occurs in companies around the country when employers create a break period and talk to their employees about safety. Most will focus on the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry: falls.
“It’s an opportunity for employers to have a conversation with employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals,” OSHA stated about the program. “It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall hazards they can see.”
OSHA Provides Guidelines on Running a Successful Stand-Down
Any company may participate in the event and many have in years past, including commercial construction companies, residential construction contractors, independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, and more. Managers typically plan a stand-down at the workplace sometime during the week of May 8-12.
OSHA provides employers with suggestions for how to prepare their stand-downs, including details on the types of falls that should be discussed. Falls can happen from, for example, ladders, roofs, and scaffolds, and may also occur on stairs, from a structural steel, through a floor or roof opening, or through a fragile roof surface. OSHA encourages employers to take the time to review their safety procedures, for the following reasons:
- to determine what needs improvement
- to review what training is currently provided and what instruction needs to be added
- to take inventory of what equipment they currently have and what should be replaced or renewed
OSHA also suggests that companies provide hands-on exercises for employees to help increase their retention of safety information. OSHA also provides employers with certificates of participation, based on experience, that they can use once their events are completed.
In years past, more than one million workers participated in this important event.