OSHA and the National Safety Stand Down
One of the most common types of construction site accidents is a fall from elevation. Because of the prevalence of construction site falls, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is launching the National Safety Stand Down in 2018. The hope is that the National Safety Stand Down will contribute to a reduction in fall from elevation accidents in the construction industry.
Fatalities from falls from elevation accounted for 370 of the 991 construction fatalities in 2016. This date was provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. OSHA considers all of these deaths to be preventable.
Overview of the Safety Stand Down
The OSHA Safety Stand Down is described as a voluntary event for employers, particularly in the construction industry. The idea is to get employers to talk to employees about safety.
Any workplace can hold a stand down by taking a break in the workday to focus on fall hazards and discussing fall prevention. Again, the primary focus is on the construction industry because of the prevalence of elevation fall accidents.
Employers in businesses not exposed to fall hazards can also participate in the Safety Stand Down. OSHA recommends that these businesses talk about some other job hazards that they face. They are also encouraged to discuss protective protocols as well as a company's safety policies and objectives or goals.
Who Can Participate in the Safety Step Down?
According to OSHA, anyone who has an interest in preventing hazards in the workplace is welcome to participate in the Safety Stand Down. In prior years, similar programming included commercial construction companies of all types as well as residential construction contractors and subcontractors and independent contractors.
Other companies encouraged to participate in the Safety Step Down include highway construction companies, the U.S. Military, other government participants, general industry employers, unions, employer's trade associations, safety equipment manufacturers, institutes, and employee interest organizations.
OSHA Partners in Safety Step Down
OSHA is partnering with a number of key organizations and groups to promote Safety Step Down in 2018. These organizations include the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the National Occupational Research Agenda, OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives, the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute Education Centers.
How to Conduct a Safety Step Down
The heart of a Safety Step Down is a business taking a break during the workday to have a safety activity geared towards providing information to address elevation fall and other types of accident scenarios. Managers are encouraged to plan the Safety Step Down during a convenient point in the workday. Companies are encouraged to hold a Safety Step Down in May, but any time of year suffices. The OSHA website maintains information a business can access more specific information on how to organize and conduct a Safety Step Down.
OSHA has also announced that a business can not only present a Safety Step Down program to its workers, it can also reason out to the public at large. While elevation fall accidents represent a major problem in the construction industry, and to a lesser degree with other business, it is also a common form of preventable accident among the public at large.
Businesses can present the Safety Step Down to the general public. This will permit the public to have valuable information and resources to prevent elevation falls among the broader population.
For example, members of the general public end up injured and even killed, each year during the course of home improvement projects. A good percentage of these individuals sustain injuries or are even killed, in elevation fall accidents involving equipment like scaffolding.
A business can obtain answers to questions about the Safety Step Down online at the OSHA website or by calling the agency.
Certificate of Participation
Employers that put on a Safety Step Down program can provide feedback online. OSHA is interested in obtaining feedback to ascertain how the program might be improved in the future. An employer can download an OSHA certificate of participation following the completion of a Safety Step Down.
Share Your Story With OSHA
OSHA is also asking businesses who participate in the Safety Step Down to provide their stories to the agency. These stories are intended to be shared with other businesses to give them ideas about how to reach out to employees when it comes to workplace safety issues. These stories can be submitted through the OSHA website.
Jessica Kane writes for Advance Online, a leading provider of web-based OSHA. DOT. and HAZWOPER training.