Make fall prevention on job sites a daily priority

One wrong step and a construction worker can tumble down a steeply pitched roof, slide or drop off an unstable ladder, or be left hanging from a scaffold. The difference between an unexpected stumble and tragedy is simple: fall protection.

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Hundreds of workers die each year and thousands more suffer catastrophic and debilitating injuries. Yet, lack of proper fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To recognize this often fatal hazard, tens of thousands of employers and more than a million workers across the country joined OSHA in 2014 for a weeklong Fall Safety Stand-Down, the largest occupational safety event ever held. It is now an annual observance.

Building on last year's widespread participation, OSHA made this year's Stand-Down a two-week event May 4-15, 2015. Employers and workers paused during their workday for topic talks, demonstrations, and training on how to use safety harnesses, guard rails, and other safeguards to protect workers from falls. Underscoring the importance of this effort, industry and business leaders, including universities, labor organizations, and community and faith-based groups, scheduled stand-downs in all 50 states and around the world.

While the national observance happens only once a year, preventing falls must be a priority every day. The National Safety Stand-Down website provides details on how to conduct a Stand-Down and gives access to free education and training resources, fact sheets, and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. These resources are available on their website.

"With the economy on the rebound and housing starts on the rise, now is the time to for all of us to renew our commitment to sending workers home safe every night," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Last year's Stand-Down showed us what employers and workers sharing that commitment can accomplish. Responsible employers understand that safety is not a luxury — it is a necessity."

The National Fall Safety Stand-Down is part of OSHA's fall prevention campaign, launched three years ago with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda, and The Center for Construction Research and Training. Additional partners for this year's event include: American Society for Safety Engineers, National Safety Council, National Construction Safety Executives, the United States Air Force, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs, and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers.

"No child should lose a parent, no wife should lose a husband, and no worker should lose their life in a preventable fall," said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard. "The Stand-Down serves as an important opportunity for worksites to recognize the hazards that cause them, and to train employers and workers how to avoid them so that these senseless tragedies can be prevented once and for all."

SECURA policyholders are encouraged to share their Safety Stand-Down activities with their SECURA Risk Management Consultant or insurance agent.