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Keven Moore: National Safety Stand-Down Week May 6-10 aims to prevent falls in construction

With the warmer weather, many new construction projects have begun and workers all across the United States have grabbed their tools, hard-hats and lunch pale and are back on the job.

According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the industry has more than 680,000 employers with over 7 million employees and creates nearly $1.3 trillion worth of structures each year.

The numbers don’t lie: The most dangerous jobs you can work in the United States are found in the construction industry. Construction had the most fatal occupational injuries out of all industries in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Following highway crashes, falls are the second-leading cause of workplace death. While construction workers are most at risk, falls can happen in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and virtually any other industry that may involve working from height.

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 366 of the 971 construction fatalities recorded in 2017 (BLS data).  Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.

The 6th annual National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls will take place this coming Monday May 6th and will run through May 10th.

The Stand-Down was conceived by OSHA as part of the  National Falls Campaign to raise awareness surrounding the severity of fall hazards in construction and the importance of preventing them.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), with support from the National Safety Council and dozens of other groups, once again ask employers to take a few minutes to discuss fall protection and safety when working from heights during the annual Fall Safety Stand-Down.

The program was originally a two-year effort, launched on Workers Memorial Day in 2012, to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction. But it was so successful it has been continued annually at the start of every construction season.

Tens of thousands of employers nationwide and more than a million workers are expected to participate in this year’s Fall Safety Stand-Down. If you are a construction contractor, employer, small or large business owner, site supervisor, foreman, health and safety professional, worker, or intermediary group, you are invited to participate to help increase safety awareness to better protect employees and save lives.

In many workplaces, falls are a real, persistent, and preventable hazard when it comes to the construction industry. In addition to all the fatalities that occur on these construction sites, thousands of other workers suffer severe and sometimes debilitating injuries from falls from elevated heights.

From OSHA compliance standpoint the lack of fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation.

The nature of the Stand-Down is such that it creates a national moment, a national pause to better increase safety awareness with everybody on the jobsite. Employers are urged to stop all work and dedicate time to speaking candidly and openly to their workers about fall hazards through talks, demonstrations, and trainings to reinforce the importance of fall prevention requirements.

According to a NIOSH report, millions of contractors and workers participating in the Stand-Down across all 50 states and overseas bring a level of support from industry that adds real value. Both large companies and small companies, even those with a handful of workers — who are often at the highest risk for falls — can feel like they are part of something bigger by taking advantage of the many Stand-Down resources, fall-related materials, and other support that partners can provide leading up to and during the event.

To conduct a successful Stand-Down you might wish to share some of the following resources or plan some of the following activities for the week:

• Drills and practices

• Toolbox talks

• Lunchtime presentations

• Webinars and video presentations

• Equipment inspections

• Trainings and demonstrations

• Posters and other resources available at the official OSHA National Safety Stand-Down website

• Infographics, videos and fall prevention research and resources available on the  NIOSH website

• Hard hat stickers and other resources available on the  CPWR website

• Resources available in both English and Spanish and a personalized certificate of participation available on the OSHA National Safety Stand-Down website.

Be Safe My Friends

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.

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