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April 26, 2021
NIOSH, OSHA call for safety stand-downs

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) called for workers and employers to observe two safety “stand downs,” calling attention to two sometimes fatal construction industry hazards. The second annual day-long National Stand-Down to Prevent Struck-by Incidents is April 26, and the eighth annual week-long National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction is May 3–7.

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Fall and struck-by hazards are two of the “Fatal Four” or “Focus Four” safety hazards, along with electrocution and caught-in/-between hazards. The most frequently cited Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards include the fall protection, ladders, scaffolds, and fall protection training standards.

OSHA encouraged construction employers and other stakeholders to participate in the National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction and promote fall protection awareness and training. OSHA also encouraged participants and partners to use the “#StandDown4Safety” hashtag on social media to promote the event.

OSHA and its partners have planned a 2021 National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction: Official Kick-off event for May 3 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

“Workers suffer serious and fatal injuries from falls and have a devastating impact on families and businesses,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health James Frederick said in an agency statement.

“This important collaboration with the construction industry encourages employers to learn how to better control fall-related hazards and improve their safety and health programs,” Frederick continued.

While Frederick now leads OSHA, President Joe Biden recently nominated Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker to assistant secretary for the federal agency.

The partnership behind the fall prevention national safety stand-down campaign includes NIOSH, the institute’s National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA, and The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), a labor union-affiliated safety research center. The CPWR also is offering webinars—“Cranes & Lifting: Avoiding Struck-By Incidents Under the Hook” and “Preventing Struck-By Incidents: Learning by Experience”—for the struck-by stand-down.

OSHA and its partners have scheduled events and gathered employer resources for the fall protection stand-down. OSHA suggested that companies observe the stand-down by taking a break for a fall protection toolbox talk or other safety activities such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job-specific fall hazards. Employers providing feedback to the agency can download a certificate of participation.

Resources provided for the stand-down include fact sheets and posters; OSHA guidance documents on fall protection, ladders, and scaffolds; and lesson plans for employers in both English and Spanish. The agency has additional resources available in Polish, Portuguese, and Russian.

OSHA’s resource page also includes links to resources developed by the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP); the CPWR, including the CPWR’s stopconstructionfalls.com website; and the National Safety Council (NSC). The CPWR’s site includes a construction fatalities map.

National, regional, and OTI Education Center events are planned to the stand-down week.

Fatalities caused by falls from heights continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers, according to OSHA, citing 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that fatal falls accounted for 401 of the 1,061 construction industry fatalities that year.

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