National Safety Stand-Down: Preventing Falls In Construction


The National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction will hold its annual “Stand-Down” event beginning Monday, May 6th and concluding Friday, May 10th. This event began in 2012 as a two-year campaign and was extended indefinitely in 2014 to annually take place the first week of May.

The Stand-Down is a voluntary program aimed to prevent fatalities related to falls within the construction industry. Even with the progress that has been made to increase awareness on this important topic, falls continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Additionally, Fall Protection – General Requirements Standard (1926.501), maintained its position as OSHA’s most frequently cited standard.

Unfortunately, this marks the 13th consecutive year this standard has been at the top of the leaderboard on the agency’s “Top 10” citation list. That is more than double the next most frequently cited standard, hence the importance of getting involved with the Stand-Down activities to prevent falls.

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates 36.9% of all fatalities in the construction industry are related to falls. To provide a better perspective, this means 395 individuals working in the construction industry went to work, but never made it home last year. Tragically, most losses related to falls are preventable.

The attention this campaign brings to preventing fall incidents in construction pairs with a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for falls created by OSHA that employers and employees should be mindful of. The NEP is an ongoing directive that gives way for allowing focused inspections by compliance officers in construction and other industries when specific fall exposure(s) conditions are met.

If you are wondering how to get started with your involvement in this campaign, here are a few ideas. You can use traditional tailgate safety meetings, video conferences, performing safety inspections with the entire crew, or all of the above to boost awareness.

Getting Started

Start with an effective launch on why the Stand-Down week is so important to the company and individual employees. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t hesitate to talk about the number of injuries and fatalities related to falls, as that can have a greater impact. Falls in construction can be “life enders” and a healthy dose of reminders concerning this topic might just be the antidote to prevent the next preventable tragedy.

Have a supervisor or foreman perform a thorough inspection on fall protection equipment or other protective system that your company uses as a group. Remind employees that documentation is integral to the process designed to hold them accountable. This serves as a checks and balances for the policy the employer has created and needs to be effectively implemented.

Pick a specific area related to falls that your organization can highlight to further mitigate risk or create awareness on. Discuss and review a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) that addresses the appropriate steps to take for the fall exposure(s). This can also serve as a great opportunity to let a field employee, competent in fall protection, step in and lead the conversation.

Use the following risk mitigation principles. Pose the question “Is there a safer way to perform a task at elevated heights”?

Remind employees about the concept of “STKY” – Stuff That Kills Ya. This program, which is referred to as the Capacity Model by Quanta Services was awarded the National Safety Council’s Green Cross Award for Safety Innovation. This is an outside-the-box approach to managing risk that might capture the attention in ways that traditional training methods might not be able to.

The statistics do not lie. By working together, we can all help employees go home safely each night. Education and training will keep this topic at the forefront of all employees’ minds. To honor the legacy of those who lost their lives from falls and the lives that can be saved, we encourage all construction companies to act during Stand-Down week. Participating in this initiative doesn’t need to take a lot of time. It can be a five-minute investment that makes the difference. The goal of this campaign is simple: create awareness throughout the week for your employees geared towards eliminating fatalities and injuries related to falls.

Safeguarding Your Safety

No matter what level of safety integration your company or organization has, there is always room for improvement. The risk management journey should always include both forward looking opportunities and checking the rearview and learning from prior events or accidents.

Taking the time to address fall exposures with both new and seasoned employees could save a life. There is an abundance of resources available, so take the time to research your specific exposures and generate awareness not only during this week, but continually throughout the year.

Sentinel specializes in managing risks and exposures while also preparing for future threats. We work with companies of various sizes to assess your specific exposures, mitigate risks, and provide tailored coverage for your specific requirements. This allows you to focus on continued growth and success. Contact our Sentinel Risk Performance Group today to learn more about Safeguarding Your Success.

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About The Author

As Director of Risk Engineering, Dana’s professional passion puts Sentinel clients on the path to workplace safety, compliance, and optimal profitability.

Dana is widely known and well respected in the loss control arena. He provides workplace and occupational safety guidance and training and assures compliance standards are met for businesses with a diverse set of operational risk portfolios.

Dana is heavily involved with American Traffic Safety Services Association where he is a committee member in efforts to advance safety and health for Sentinel clients and the construction industry abroad.