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May 01, 2024
ASSP: May 6 to 10 safety stand-down for fall prevention

On April 25, the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) called on employers to participate in the annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction May 6 to 10. The National Safety Stand-Down is part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) year-round fall prevention campaign.

Falls from height, one of the construction industry’s “fatal four” safety hazards along with caught-in/-between, electrocution, and struck-by hazards, is the leading cause of death for construction workers. There are more than 350 fatalities and 20,000 serious injuries annually, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

The ASSP also encouraged employers and safety professionals to use the #StandDown4Safety hashtag on social media to share stories and recommendations during the National Safety Stand-Down, which coincides with National Construction Safety Week.

The National Safety Stand-Down has helped train more than 10 million workers on fall prevention since its inception in 2014, according to the ASSP. Over the years, organizations of all sizes have participated, including the U.S. military, highway construction companies, and residential contractors.

Employers in the construction industry can participate in the stand-down by briefly stopping work and giving a “toolbox talk,” performing a safety equipment inspection, conducting a rescue planning exercise, or discussing job-specific hazards. All workers performing work at heights should be outfitted with proper-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent falls, according to the ASSP.

“No matter the job, worker injuries and fatalities are preventable,” Thom Kramer, fall protection expert and vice president of finance on the ASSP’s board of directors, said in a statement from the group.

“Companies can create safe environments by using prevention-through-design principles, providing the right equipment and training everyone involved,” Kramer continued. “It’s also a great idea to implement a fall protection program that follows our recently updated Z359.2 consensus standard.”

OSHA offers resources for conducting a safety stand-down, including infographics and articles about construction risks and fall protection, publications about ladder safety, fall protection videos, and hard hat stickers and hazard alert cards. Materials on working safely at height are available in English and Spanish.

OSHA’s partners in the stand-down include the ASSP, Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), and National Safety Council (NSC).

The ASSP was founded in 1911 months after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire as the United Association of Casualty Inspectors, which is an organization of over 35,000 occupational safety and health professionals. The ASSP is also a standards-setting organization responsible for standards like the Z359.2 standard for fall protection and fall restraint and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSP Z10.0 standard for occupational safety and health management.

Failing to protect employees from falls can lead to OSHA citations and penalties. The agency announced last fall that its construction industry fall protection standard was its most frequently cited standard for the 13th straight year. In fiscal year (FY) 2023, OSHA cited 7,271 violations of 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501.

The fall protection standard also is one of the standards included in agency enforcement guidance issued last year, allowing “instance-by-instance” citations for “high-gravity” serious violations.

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