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Preventing falls in construction: Fifth annual stand-down set for May 7-11

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Washington — NIOSH, OSHA and the Center for Construction Research and Training – also known as CPWR – are among the entities encouraging construction employers to stop work to discuss fall hazards and prevention with workers during the fifth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, scheduled to take place May 7-11.

Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, according to NIOSH, accounting for one-third of the industry’s fatalities. On March 21, speaking during a CPWR-hosted webinar promoting the stand-down, Scott Ketcham, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, discussed the multifaceted approach safety professionals can take when planning a stand-down.

“There’s no real method that is prescribed in holding a stand-down, but we like it when companies hold a stand-down by stopping what they’re doing and having a focused session,” Ketcham said. “Whether training with toolbox talks, videos, some sort of demonstration or whatnot to talk about how falls have an impact in the workplace, and, better yet, how you can prevent them from occurring in your workplace. It might focus on equipment inspections. Whatever works in your workplace or your situation.”

According to OSHA, millions of construction workers have participated in stand-downs since the campaign began, with events taking place in all 50 states and internationally. In 2017, companies with less than 25 employees held 49 percent of stand-down events in the United States.

“These have been a tremendous success,” Ketcham said. “It’s a way of reaching out to workers and stressing the impact of trying to reduce falls in the workplace. It crosses strata – small companies, big companies. Some of the country’s largest construction companies held stand-downs. And we want to emphasize, again, we’re looking for all employers who have a potential for falls to participate in the stand-down, and this is a great way to do it.”

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