Yesterday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its campaign for a nationwide Safety Stand-Down on June 2 – 6, 2014 in an effort to get more people to recognize the real dangers of falls that happen to people doing construction work. Falls are the reason for most construction worker deaths in this country, and yet falls are not given the serious attention that is needed to keep construction workers safe on the job.
“Falls account for more than a third of all deaths in this industry,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant Secretary Of Labor For Occupational Safety And Health. “We’re working with employers, workers, industry groups, state OSH plans, and civic and faith-based organizations to host safety stand-downs that focus on recognizing hazards and preventing falls. We are getting the message out to America’s employers that safety pays and falls cost.”
June 2014 Stand-Down: What Is Asked of Construction Workers in a Stand-Down?
This summer, during the 2014 Stand-Down, both construction workers and their employers are going to be asked to stop during their workday and “stand down” from the job for the specific purpose of focusing on the dangers of fall accidents in the construction industry. OSHA is providing materials and support in this efforts, as are other organizations, to help build knowledge and awareness and keep workers safe on their construction jobs. Formal “Certificates of Participation” are provided to all those who participate in a 2014 Stand Down effort at their work site.
“Preventing falls in the construction industry 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 Dr. John Howard, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) director.
How Dangerous are Falls For a Construction Worker?
According to federal studies, Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, an area notoriously dangerous for workers. Construction workers are at risk of serious, even fatal, falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolds, and other high places. It is because so much of construction work by necessity must be done while working from heights, that there is such a danger of serious injury from falls to the worker.
Any construction worker who is on the job at a height of six feet or more is at risk of serious harm or death if he or she should fall to the ground from that position.
Accordingly, workers need to receive proper safety training. Employers also need to provide construction workers with vital safety equipment and protections such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). Harnesses and other fall protection equipment, properly used and inspected to make sure it is in good working condition, can literally safe lives.