Embracing the Safety Stand-Down's Message

OSHA's construction industry fall protection standard, 29 CFR 1926.501, was its most-cited standard during fiscal year 2015, and construction standards for safe use of scaffolding and ladders also ranked among OSHA's Top Ten that year.

This year's 4th Annual National Safety Stand-Down is set for May 8-12. Still focused on preventing falls in construction and still involving OSHA, NIOSH, and CPWR, it deserves our attention and support, and it is something OSHA still emphasizes and publicizes—not a small consideration, given the palpable chill that has affected federal agencies as they adapt to the new president’s administration.

Falls are a major construction hazard, as we all know. OSHA's construction industry fall protection standard, 29 CFR 1926.501, was its most-cited standard during fiscal year 2015, when falls accounted for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities across the country. Construction standards for safe use of scaffolding and ladders also ranked among OSHA's Top Ten most-cited standards that year, an indication that falls remain far too common in this busy industry.

Thousands of companies have participated in past Stand-Downs, and the organizers say the one in 2016 included more than 130 public events. There are infographics, a free app for accessing materials, and plenty of other resources at the 2017 Stand-Down's website, http://stopconstructionfalls.com/. The campaign's goal is to prevent fatal falls from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds. The organizers urge construction contractors to do these things:

  • PLAN ahead to do the job safely
  • PROVIDE the right equipment
  • TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

All of the training, safety meetings, toolbox talks, and everything else done as part of the Stand-Down are very important as the industry's leaders and safety professionals try to prevent these devastating incidents. And so was the first annual National Ladder Safety Month that took place in March 2017 (visit www.laddersafetymonth.com for information), a similar and equally worthwhile effort to stop some of these falls.

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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