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Help Prevent Falls In Construction

In construction, falls have been the leading cause of workplace fatalities for many years. According to BLS data, 395 workers lost their lives due to falls in 2022. Falls are preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries. This year the event will be held May 6-19, 2024.

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a Stand-Down by taking a break to focus on fall hazards and reinforcing the importance of fall prevention. Anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down.

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort:

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)
  • OSHA-approved State Plans
  • State consultation programs
  • Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR)
  • American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP)
  • National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE)
  • U.S. Air Force
  • OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers

Companies have many options for conducting a Safety Stand-Down, for example, taking a break to have a toolbox talk. Other safety activities include conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job-specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to plan a Stand-Down that works best for their workplace. OSHA’s website hosts an Events page to help employers and employees find events in your area. Additionally, OSHA offers suggestions to prepare for a successful “Stand-Down” and highlights from past “Stand-Downs.”

At NSC we offer a Fall Protection Training Course that has everything you need to equip employees to be safe at work and prevent falls. Our Fall Protection Bundle is an all-in-one resource for fall prevention and awareness in the workplace. It includes our Fall Protection Training and Booklets, which can inform your employees on the existence and use of industry-regulated fall prevention systems. We will also include our Fall Protection Standards & Regulations Manual, an easy-to-read resource on federal fall prevention regulations.

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Don’t Fall for an Unsafe Work Environment: Why Fall Protection Systems Are Essential for Worker Safety

Worker using fall protection system

While it might appear obvious that any elevated surface with unprotected edges poses a fall risk if not properly secured with fall prevention systems (fall arrest systems), there are many factors that need to be considered when ensuring a workplace is safe from fall risk.

These factors include:

  • What causes the risk?
  • Where is the risk and/or are the multiple places that pose a fall risk?
  • Is there currently fall prevention in place?
  • Is that fall prevention compliant with current local, state and federal regulations?
  • Are there materials being used that increase the risk of fall?

While this is not an exhaustive list, it demonstrates the many details that go into properly preventing falls from an elevated surface in the workplace. And with the increasing risk of severe—or even fatal—injuries resulting from falls in the workplace, it is imperative that fall prevention is not left to chance or to an outdated or unregulated system.

Falls Are Costly in More Ways than One
The greatest cost from falls is undoubtedly the injury or even death of workers. The mental and physical toll a severe fall can take on an employee and their coworkers can be incredibly steep and lead to more far-reaching consequences, including feeling unsafe at, or distrusting of, the workplace. This can lead to decreased productivity and increased employee turnover.

In addition to the mental and emotional costs of a fall is the financial cost, which can add up quickly for employers. In fact, according to the CDC, workers’ compensation and medical costs associated with occupational falls in the U.S. have been estimated at $70 billion annually. For any workplace, the cost to compensate a worker for a fall—plus pay any potential fines for unsafe or lacking fall prevention—is reason enough to invest in proper fall prevention education and systems.

Industries Most at Risk for Falls
Certain industries have a much higher risk of fall from elevated surfaces than others, including construction and extraction, agriculture, electrical/utility trades, transportation, materials moving and cleaning and maintenance. In fact, according to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014, 261,930 workers in these industries (both government and private sector) missed one or more days of work due to a fall injury.

For example, electricians scaling an electric pole to repair damage caused by a lightning strike needs proper equipment to keep themselves safe for the duration of their work. Similarly, a janitorial staff person who is going to climb onto a ledge to clean a window needs proper equipment and to follow the appropriate safety measures to prevent a fall.

Ultimately, all workplaces that have employees working on elevated surfaces need to be aware of the risk of fall and how to prevent it. This is key to ensuring worker safety and business regulatory compliance.

What is most important, though, is not thinking of fall prevention from elevated surfaces with unprotected edges as a problem with a one-size-fits-all solution. No two workplaces are exactly alike, which means that their fall prevention systems need to be tailored to their specific needs and causes of risk. Without proper educational tools, creating and maintaining fall prevention is no simple task.

Fortunately, there are some foundational fall prevention systems that businesses can customize to their unique needs to instill more safety and risk mitigation in their workplaces.

Common Sources of Fall Risk in Workplaces: Elevated Surfaces and Scaffolding
As previously mentioned, elevated work surfaces pose a major threat to worker safety due to the risk of falls.

Examples of these surfaces can include:

  • Roofs
  • Scaffolding/Ladders
  • Stairs/Stairwells
  • Ship Decks
  • Utility Poles
  • Warehouse Mezzanines
  • Elevator Shafts
  • Grain Silos
  • Floor Holes/Pits

This list does not touch on all elevated work scenarios that create a fall risk for workers, but it helps give a general idea of just how prevalent this risk is. According to OSHA standards, fall risk is present in any situation where someone is working in a location more than six feet off the ground. However, this does vary by industry, and some industries or workplaces need to have fall protection in place when workers are four feet off the ground or more.

Out of the list above, scaffolding is one of the greatest sources of fall risk, particularly in construction, maintenance or warehouse work. Scaffolding is a temporary, elevated work surface that holds people, materials or both. Scaffolding is most commonly used in construction and maintenance work but provides worker assistance in several industries.

There are two general types of scaffolding:

  • Suspended scaffolding: one or more platforms suspended overhead by rope or other non-rigid supports
  • Supported scaffolding: one or more platforms suspended from the ground by rigid support frames made from materials such as metal or wood

While it may seem odd that a tool meant to help workers accomplish tasks safely off the ground is actually the source of many workplace falls, it makes sense when one understands the intricacies of building sound scaffolding and realizes they vary by industry like construction, general workplace, so forth.

For a general idea of requirements for fall-safe scaffolding, here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Has the scaffolding been constructed according to manufacturer instructions?
  2. Are guardrails properly placed on unprotected edges?
  3. Are the platform bases sufficiently strong enough to support the workers and materials that will be on them?
    1. Keep in mind that this is in addition to the scaffolding being able to support its own weight.
    1. Weight-bearing requirements for supported and suspended scaffolding types differ, so one must make sure they understand the requirements for their specific scaffolding type.
  4. Is the scaffolding regularly maintained between uses?
    1. Proper take-down and set-up procedures must be followed every time.
  5. Is the person selecting and constructing the scaffolding appropriate for the task?

This is only scratching the surface of scaffolding use. To ensure proper protocols are being followed and maintained, it is important to have the proper tools and education at your disposal to get the job done correctly and safely to mitigate fall risk.

Common Fall Prevention Tactics
There are several measures one can take to help prevent falls in the workplace. To determine the best measures to take for any given work environment, there must first be a thorough review of the potential fall hazard (like an elevated work surface with unprotected edges) to make a fall prevention plan best tailored to that specific situation, project and work zone.

While completing this review, it’s important to consider:

  • How far off the ground will someone be working?
  • Will there be more than one person working simultaneously?
  • What materials will be used (if any) and need to be accounted for?
  • Will there be potential for increased slip risk due to environmental factors, such as outdoor work or the types of material being used?
  • Will any dangerous machinery be used?
  • Will this be a workspace that requires scaffolding or ladders for support?

Once a review is complete, planning for fall prevention can begin. Some simple, yet effective, fall prevention tactics are:

  1. Keep the workspace clear and free from clutter: This is especially important while working on elevated surfaces, as a trip and fall could result in much more severe injury than from the ground.
  2. Properly secure all unprotected edges: For any height more than four to six feet from the ground, if a worker trips and falls, there must be something in place to stop that person from falling off that location.
  3. Utilize safety harnesses and lines: When unable to use a ladder or scaffolding for support, a properly fitting harness and line are needed.
  4. Incorporate fall hazard warning signage: Keep workers on alert with signs indicating fall risk. This can help reduce the chance of accidental falls from workers simply not paying attention.
  5. Inspect fall prevention equipment before each use: Like any equipment, fall prevention equipment can lose effectiveness over time. Regular and thorough inspections can help ensure its efficacy or if it needs to be replaced.

It is important to note this list only just scratches the surface of all the detailed regulations around fall prevention for worker safety. For example, installing a guardrail on a surface with unprotected edges might appear straightforward, but many factors need to be considered, and standards met, to ensure it will truly protect workers from a fall. Additionally, there are different regulations for different industries, which brings in another layer of complexity to the task of preventing falls.

What’s Next in Fall Prevention?
Seeking expert, professional help—instead of trying to piece together a fall prevention system—is the safest choice for workers in any industry. National Safety Compliance (NSC) is a great partner for all things related to safe working environments, offering many resources to help businesses stay up-to-date on the latest in fall prevention tactics and regulations.

NSC’s Fall Protection Bundle includes everything a business needs to understand and implement proper fall prevention protocols. Utilizing a video kit, training booklets and an in-depth manual, this bundle will help businesses keep their workers safe, while helping to reduce time and money lost due to worker accidents and injuries.

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10th Annual National Safety Stand-Down

The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries. A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees. In addition to the annual event, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls, which is the violation cited most frequently in construction industry inspections.

“This national emphasis program aligns all of OSHA’s fall protection resources to combat one of the most preventable and significant causes of workplace fatalities,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “We’re launching this program in concert with the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction and the industry’s Safety Week. Working together, OSHA and employers in all industries can make lasting changes to improve worker safety and save lives.”

In fact, any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on Fall Hazards. Reinforcing the importance of fall prevention is another way to be proactive in reducing falls. Additionally, employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards, can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals.

Past Stand-Down Participants Include:

  • Commercial construction companies of all sizes
  • Residential construction contractors
  • Sub- and independent contractors
  • Highway construction companies
  • General industry employers
  • U.S. Military
  • Unions
  • Employer’s trade associations
  • Institutes
  • Employee interest organizations
  • Safety equipment manufacturers

This event is open to anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace. Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity. For example, discussing job specific hazards, conducting safety equipment inspections, or developing rescue plans. Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace.

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.

OSHA offers some suggestions for a successful Stand-Down which include:

  • Try to start early. 
  • Think about asking others associated with your project to participate in the stand-down.
  • Consider reviewing your fall prevention program.
  • Develop presentations or activities that will meet your needs.
  • Decide when to hold the stand-down and how long it will last.
  • Promote the stand-down.
  • Hold your stand-down.
  • Follow up.

It is important to decide what information will be best for your workplace and employees. The meeting should provide information to employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies, goals and expectations. Hands-on exercises like a worksite walkaround, equipment checks, etc. can increase employee engagement. It is important to make it interesting to employees. Some employers find that serving snacks increases participation. In Addition, make it positive and interactive. Let employees talk about their experiences and encourage them to make suggestions. If you learned something that could improve your fall prevention program, consider making changes. At NSC we offer resources to help with Fall Prevention Training.

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Scaffolding, Slips & Trips, and Fall Protection

Fall Protection

Even in the safest workplaces, accidents happen. Slips, trips, and falls account for over one-third of all workplace injuries across all industries. Fortunately, these types of injuries are also some of the most preventable — if you have the right procedures and fall protection gear in place.

Fall protection is mandated when workers are exposed to different heights, which vary by industry:

  • General workplaces: Four feet
  • Shipyards: Five feet
  • Construction: Six feet
  • Longshoring operations: Eight feet
  • When working above dangerous machinery: Always, regardless of potential fall distance

And this isn’t just in reference to people working above ground: even workers at ground level are at risk when floor openings are present.

There are many different types of fall protection equipment, both temporary and permanent, that can keep workers safe in these scenarios. Here’s a rundown of the main types of fall protection used today, along with some resources for learning more about each.

Scaffolding

Workers use scaffolding to temporarily get access to buildings or machines for construction, repair, or maintenance. These temporary platforms feature planks of different lengths and widths designed to hold both workers and materials.

There are a number of OSHA regulations for scaffolds to help ensure they’re strong and stable enough to support workers and materials. Here are the highlights:

  • Scaffolds must support their own weight and at least 4 times the maximum load that will be applied to it.
  • Platforms must be at least 18 inches wide, and they must include guardrails or fall arrest systems for workers.
  • Space between platforms and uprights can’t be more than one inch wide
  • Both supported and suspended scaffolds have their own unique requirements.
  • Shore and lean-to scaffolds are prohibited.
  • For scaffolds 10 feet or higher, workers are required to use fall protection equipment like a personal fall arrest system or a guardrail system.

Other Types of Fall Protection

For some jobs, like window washing or HVAC repair, it would be unreasonable to build scaffolding to protect workers at elevation. There are a number of other types of fall protection gear, including:

  • Guardrails. Guardrails can be temporary or permanent, but both keep workers away from dangerous edges or holes.
  • Fall arrest system. A fall arrest system stops a fall, and consists of a body harness, anchor, and a lifeline connecting the two. A fall restriction system is similar, but often includes another component, like a bosun’s chair, that serves as a work positioning system.
  • Travel-restraint system. These systems keep workers from getting too close to an unprotected edge. In a travel-restraint system, a worker is attached to a body harness, which connects to a lanyard that may move freely along an anchored line — keeping the worker in the safe zone.

Best Practices for Keeping Workers Safe

Regardless of your industry, there are a number of measures you can take to prevent slips and trips — whether your workers are routinely high above the ground (or not). They are:

  • Keep work areas clean, dry, and free of debris.
  • Use railings, floor covers, and toe boards to prevent workers from falling into holes.
  • Install guardrails and toe boards against open-sided platforms.
  • Ensure rooftop safety by using temporary or permanent guardrails and anchors for personal fall protection.
  • Train your team on fall protection standards (start with our fall protection video kit, booklets, and regulations manual).

National Safety Compliance provides safety training courses to help you stay compliant and stay safe in the workplace. Check out our range of safety training products here.

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Turn-Key Solutions for Keeping Employees Safe

It’s Injury Prevention Month, so we thought it would be helpful to put together a list of ways you can keep your employees safer in the workplace.

There were 4,764 workplace injuries that resulted in death in 2020. Nearly half of these occurred in the transportation, material moving, and construction and extraction occupations. Beyond that, there were 2.7 million non-fatal workplace injuries in the United States during 2020. While these numbers have decreased over the past few years, workplace safety is still a prominent concern.

To focus on injury and fatality prevention in your workplace, there are several different categories of solutions you should have in place. Here are the ones we believe are the most important.

Provide General Safety Orientation

What your employees don’t know can hurt them. Your safety orientation program will look different depending on your industry, regulations in your locale, and your workers’ roles, but it’s a must-have for companies that want to remain compliant, reduce turnover, and foster the kind of workplace culture that leads to both a strong reputation and bottom line.

Check out our array of Safety Orientation Training Courses, available in both video and booklet formats for different learning environments.

Focus on Slips, Trips, and Falls

While some workplaces inherently present more dangerous hazards than others (think heavy machinery inside a manufacturing facility, or on a construction site), no workplace is exempt from the hazards of slips, trips, and falls — not even a seemingly benign office environment. Get your team up to speed on these common hazards by having them participate in a Slips, Trips and Falls Training Course.

Use Posters and Visuals

There’s no better way to keep safety top-of-mind than to provide visuals around your workplace. Safety posters can serve a variety of purposes, from helping employees recall a specific process or steps, to helping to motivate or inspire changes in behavior. Some posters or safety signs are required by law in certain workplaces. Signage in your workplace can dramatically help with knowledge retention after your employees complete a training course, as well — serving as a valuable way to protect your investment in employee safety education.

Offer Industry-Specific Information

While generic safety education will certainly help prevent injuries in the workplace, there’s no substitute for expert, industry-focused training. This is especially true for construction, manufacturing & warehousing, and healthcare, since these are the main industries where workers suffer the highest number of injuries and fatalities on the job. They’re also some of the most highly regulated industries, meaning you could face hefty fines if you aren’t up to speed on compliance requirements.

Have an Emergency Plan

No matter the type of business you operate, emergencies happen. These include natural disasters, chemical and HAZMAT accidents, and even workplace violence. Do your employees know what to do in the event of any of these disasters? Are you aware of which types of emergencies are most likely to occur at your place of work? Outline an emergency action plan that states the steps your team members should take in the event of each type of emergency. Ready to prevent injuries within your workplace? NSC makes training easy.

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FALL PROTECTION: OSHA GUIDANCE FOR ELEVATED FALL PREVENTION IN CONSTRUCTION

Falls are a dangerous work hazard, especially in construction. In fact, according to the CDC, in 2017 falls accounted for 366 out of 971 total construction fatalities! Fall protection for your workers is the responsibility of the employers. By understanding how falls occur, planning for your worker safety, as well as providing proper safety gear and training, you can take an active role in protecting your employees.

What is an elevated fall?

In general, a fall is defined as a slip or trip causing your body to collapse due to a quick shift in your center of gravity. There are two types of falls: same-level and elevated. Same-level falls occur when you trip and fall to the floor or against a wall but you don’t fall from one level to another. Elevated falls, however, are a fall from above or below the floor from an elevated place like a ladder, building rooftop, through a skylight, or off a scaffold.

This article will focus on preventing elevated falls in construction and will not go in-depth about single-level slips, trips, and falls.

Fall Prevention in Construction

Since falls and elevated falls are major hazards in construction, their rules on fall safety and protection are well-defined. Below is a general guide to the most frequently cited OSHA regulations for construction fall prevention.

Most Frequently Cited Fall Protection OSHA Standards

1926.501(b)(13) Fall Protection—Residential Construction

When employees are working in a residential construction environment higher than 6 feet above the ground or a lower level, they need to be protected by either a guardrail, safety net, or personal fall arrest system.

1926.501(b)(1) Fall Protection—Unprotected sides and edges

If an edge or side of a walking or working surface leads to a fall that is more than 6 feet above the ground or a lower level, you’ll need to prevent falling by using guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems.

1926.501 (b)(10) Fall Protection—Roofing work on low-slope roofs

Each employee on the roof needs fall protection if the ground or lower level is at least 6 feet down from the roof’s edge. Depending on the job’s needs, you can choose from a guardrail, safety net, personal fall arrest system. Also permitted are combinations of warning line systems and guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, or safety monitoring systems.

1926.501 (b)(11) Fall Protection—Steep Roof

Since a steep roof is more treacherous to work on, unprotected sides should be protected with a guardrail that features toeboards, plus a safety net or personal fall arrest system.

1926.501 (b)(4)(i) Fall Protection—Skylights

From 2011-2016, over 160 workers died after falling through a skylight or a hole in a roof. Because of this, workers should be protected by a personal fall arrest system and when possible, a cover or guardrail should be installed on the skylight.

Additional Requirements

Scaffolding

Just like with unprotected roofs and other workspace edges, if scaffolding is more than six feet above the ground, guardrails should be installed. If an employee is using a float scaffold, needle beam scaffold, or ladder jack scaffold, they should also be protected by a personal fall arrest system. This is also true if they are using a single-point or two-point adjustable suspension scaffold.

Steel erection

Steel erection in construction often perches workers in precarious positions as they erect tall and narrow structures at various heights. This makes typical fall protection techniques impractical or impossible, as anchor points can be limited. In these scenarios, fall protection is required for unprotected edges more than 15 feet above a lower level.

Controlled decking zones (CDZ) are sometimes used instead of fall protection. These areas must be no more than 90 feet wide and deep from a leading edge and feature both clear boundaries and safety deck attachments. Within the CDZ, work can be performed without guardrails, fall restraints, or other safety systems but access to the area must be strictly controlled.

Stairs & Ladders

Fixed and portable ladders both must be well-constructed and frequently inspected for safety. Fixed ladders that are longer than 20 feet must feature either a fall protection system like a self-retracting lifeline, cage, or ladder safety device or they are required to feature a landing every 30 feet.

Stairs are a common site for accidental slips and falls, so whether they are temporary or not, they must feature handrails. If the stairs are temporary, they must be properly maintained and dismantled at the end of construction work.

Training

In order for your workers to keep safety in mind and practice good fall prevention techniques, they need proper training. Employers need to train their workers to set up and utilize fall protection equipment safely and effectively, as well as how to recognize fall hazards and situations where fall protection would be required.

Fall Protection Systems

In each of the commonly cited OSHA standards and requirements, fall protection systems were heavily mentioned. These systems are crucial for protecting employees from dangerous and sometimes fatal falls when working from heights.

Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS)

Personal fall arrest utilizes a fall protection harness, anchor, and connector to catch an employee in the event of a fall and keep the forces of deceleration at a safe level.  These systems are secured to a sturdy structure through the anchor, with the connectors commonly consisting of shock-absorbing lanyards or self-retracting lifelines attached to a body harness that distributes the fall forces throughout the body.

Fall Restraint Systems

These systems tend to be preferred by workers yet are barely mentioned in OSHA fall protection regulations. Fall restraint systems also often use a harness and connector setup, however, these systems are meant to entirely prevent a fall instead of simply catching a worker if they slip over an edge. A fall restraint system features a lead that simply does not extend far enough for a worker to be able to fall over an edge, allowing them to work safely without fear of drops.

Safety Net Systems

Safety net systems are a passive form of fall protection often installed to prevent falls by covering a potential hazard as a barrier or in a setup that will catch a worker in the event of a fall to protect them from hitting lower surfaces.

Safety nets can also be used to catch debris from construction, like bricks, wood, nails, or tools that could injure workers or bystanders below a construction site.

Guardrail Systems

Guardrails can be either temporary or permanent and are highly regulated by OSHA both in construction and for general workplace safety. Guardrails are excellent forms of fall protection because they give a visual cue that a dangerous drop is over the edge they are featured on; they provide a physical barrier between people and the fall hazard; and they can act as fall protection in areas where a cover or wall are not feasible.

While they appear similar, guardrails should not be confused for handrails. Their difference is distinct. Guardrails are used for fall protection, while handrails are used for individuals to support themselves while navigating a stairway or surface.

To protect workers and other individuals from fall hazards, a guardrail must be strongly built with posts positioned evenly to avoid people from falling through the gaps. They must also be tall enough to avoid topples over the top and extend far enough to cover the entire edge. Finally, guardrails can be made from metal or wood, but they should be smooth and not splinter or cut skin or cause clothing snags.

How to Protect Your Workers from Elevated Falls

Elevated falls are a leading cause of death for construction employees. These deaths are almost always preventable with proper planning, equipment, and training.

Plan for safety

Before elevated work ever begins, it is the responsibility of the employer to plan for how it will be completed safely. This process should begin as early as the estimation phase, where safety equipment and tools should be considered and budgeted into the construction estimate.

Provide the right equipment

It is the employers’ responsibility to provide the right fall protection and other personal protection equipment to employees so that they can conduct their work safely. Not only must this equipment be provided, but it also must be regularly inspected for fit and quality.

Train your workers

Fall arrest systems and other protective gear are only effective if your workers understand when, how, and why to use them. Robust and frequent training in fall protection for various scenarios that your workers may encounter can help keep them safe and able to spot hazards competently while performing their duties.

Fall protection is an important part of construction site safety. Elevated falls are almost always preventable, so it’s crucial we put a spotlight on this safety topic to ensure workers can perform their duties without unnecessary risks.

Fall Protection Awareness

Consider getting involved with OSHA’s annual National Safety Stand-Down by hosting events to talk to your employees about fall hazards and reinforce safety policies. This event is also a great opportunity to allow your employees to speak directly to company management about their safety concerns in an open and constructive dialog.

If you’re interested in material for a National Safety Stand-Down refresher event or need resources to properly train your employees on the importance of fall hazard safety, NSC can help. We offer several different ways to train your employees on fall hazards and fall protection. Our training kits include everything you need to hold a successful training session, including video lessons, lecture presentations, and printable handouts.

Our Fall Protection training course is available on USB/DVD, instant digital access, or as a self-led online course.

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How to Prepare for National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction Week

On average, there are more than 100 worker fatalities per week (or approximately 14 deaths each day) in the United States according to 2018 data. Out of the total number of worker fatalities, more than 20% (or one in five deaths) are from the construction industry.

So, what is the leading cause behind construction-related work fatalities? If you guessed falls, you are correct. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls from elevation accounted for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities in 2018. Behind falls, being struck by an object, electrocuted, or caught in or between equipment, objects or materials are additional top factors. Together, these leading causes are what is known in the construction industry as the “Fatal Four.”

Because falls are the most hazardous element of the construction industry, each year the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in partnership with additional safety organizations host the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.

What is the Background on National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction?

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction was first introduced on Workers Memorial Day in 2012 in remembrance of those who have been killed or injured by their job. The voluntary event was originally planned to continue annually for two years with the goal of raising awareness of fall fatalities and injuries along with reducing the risk of these preventable accidents.

However, due to the massive success of National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, it has since become an annual event that occurs each May surrounding the launch of construction’s busy season. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s seventh annual event was rescheduled to Monday, Sept. 14 – Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Now, more than 150 public events are held each year across the 50 states as well as internationally. Since its introduction six years ago, OSHA’s fall prevention Stand-Down events have reached more than 10 million industry workers.

Who Can Participate in a Stand-Down Event?

Construction is the number one at-risk industry for falls while on the job, however, there are many others that can and should participate in a Stand-Down event. For example, additional industries such as manufacturing, transportation and agriculture regularly require employees to work from elevated heights. OSHA encourages any company that is potentially impacted by falls to host a Stand-Down event. In the past, OSHA has seen a wide variety of participants including construction companies, contractors, the U.S. Military, unions, trade associations, safety equipment manufacturers and many more.

Additionally, a Stand-Down event can be held no matter the size of your company, with approximately half hosted by small businesses with 25 employees or less. In fact, small business participation is particularly important. According to data from the Center for Construction Research and Training, 61% of fatal falls in construction happened in companies with 10 employees or fewer between 2011-2015.

Fall Protection Safety is a team effort.

What Are Common Examples of Stand-Down Events?

There are a myriad of ways to conduct a Stand-Down event, and employers are encouraged to consider what will work best to fit their particular needs. You may choose to host one event, or provide ongoing training throughout the week of Sept. 14-18. In light of COVID-19, OSHA asks employers to ensure that events are held while practicing safe social distancing in small groups or even virtually.

Here are some popular examples on how to host a Stand-Down event:

  • Conduct a safety demonstration on fall protection equipment.
  • Host a toolbox talk (or informal group discussion) on fall-related hazards.
  • Hold a training session on your company’s safety policies, goals and expectations.
  • Lead a safety inspection with employees.
  • Develop a rescue plan.
  • Show a safety video.

How Do I Prepare for a Stand-Down Event?

OSHA provides step-by-step instructions to help you prepare for a successful event, which include:

  • Start early and designate a Stand-Down coordinator to organize your event(s).
  • In addition to jobsite workers, invite all relevant stakeholders involved in your business to participate (for example, subcontractors, architects and engineers).
  • Review your current fall prevention efforts. Consider what falls could happen, what training and equipment you have already provided, and what areas could use improvement.
  • Decide what type of event will work best for your particular needs, whether it be a presentation, video or hands-on activity. Tip: hands-on activities such as a jobsite inspection or safety equipment check can help with employees’ retention of the information.
  • Choose when and for how long to hold your event, such as during a break, lunch or scheduling another designated time. Events can range from as simple as 15 minutes to several hours over the course of the week depending on your preference and needs.
  • Promote your Stand-Down event to employees in the medium they prefer to receive information (for instance, in-person, via email or through flyers). Tip: offering snacks has shown to increase event participation. You can also submit your free public event to be featured on OSHA’s website and see what other events are happening in your area.
  • Hold your event and create a positive, safe space for employees to engage by asking questions and offering suggestions along the way.
  • Finally, implement learnings from your Stand-Down event into your current policies and procedures to make your work environment even safer moving forward.

What Materials Are Available to Help With My Stand-Down Event?

Since our founding in 1999, National Safety Compliance has been committed to providing affordable, reliable and effective training products for American workers—including fall safety. Designed to help employers comply with OSHA regulations, our safety training programs can help companies reduce workplace accidents.

With plenty of easy-to-use, cost-effective options, we have a variety of resources to assist with your Stand-Down event, such as:

  • Fall Protection Safety Trainings: Easily train new employees or provide a refresher with a host of digital tools including a 26-minute fall protection safety video, PowerPoint presentation, employee quiz and additional materials. You can purchase digital access to the training with flexible rental options of 7 days, 30 days or 1 year. Additionally, digital access in a Spanish version is available. Or, purchase a Fall Protection Training video kit on USB or DVD that provides the same materials in a DVD or USB format that is also presented in an English or Spanish option.
  • Fall Protection Training Booklets: This 16-page booklet serves as a complementary resource to our training program. For example, it covers topics such as safety nets, covers, safety monitor systems, falling object hazards and more.

Additionally, OSHA offers a host of resources to assist with your Stand-Down event. Assets include the following in a variety of languages such as English, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese:

  • Posters
  • Fact Sheets
  • Stickers
  • Cards
  • Infographics
  • Quizzes
  • Lesson Plans
  • Videos

What Do I Do After My Stand-Down Event?

Participants are encouraged to share their Stand-Down events with #StandDown4Safety on social media. After completing your Stand-Down event, employers can download a certificate of recognition from the U.S. Department of Labor to acknowledge the time and effort spent improving fall safety within their company. The page to download your certificate will become active beginning Sept. 14 on OSHA’s website.

Want More Information?

If you would like additional information on this year’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, visit the FAQ page. If you have questions or need assistance on how National Safety Compliance’s fall protection products can help with your Stand-Down event, contact us by emailing sales@nscemail.com, calling 877-922-7233, commenting below, or using our simple chat function on our website.

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Occupational Fatalities in 2018

– The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Report, released today, shows the rate of fatal work injuries remained unchanged in 2018.

Tragically, unintentional overdoses at work increased by 12 percent—the sixth consecutive annual increase and a reflection of the broader opioid crisis that our nation is facing. To combat this problem, President Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a National Health Emergency.  OSHA also teamed with the National Safety Council on the release of a toolkit to help employers address opioid abuse in their workplaces and support workers in recovery.

Suicide at work, which increased by 11 percent in 2018, is also a tragic public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on families, workplaces, and communities. OSHA created a new webpage with free and confidential resources to help identify the warning signs of suicide and to help users know who and how to call for help.

Today’s report also showed a 14 percent decline in work-related fatal falls from heights, the lowest total since 2013. Enforcement efforts helped abate more than 7,000 fall-related hazards in the construction industry.

“OSHA will continue to use BLS data for enforcement targeting within its jurisdiction to help prevent tragedies,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Inspections for OSHA were up, and we will work with state plans so employers and workers can find compliance assistance tools in many forms or call the agency to report unsafe working conditions. Any fatality is one too many.”

Employers who need assistance in meeting their safety obligations can take advantage of OSHA’s no-cost and confidential On-Site Consultation Program. OSHA Training Institute Education Centers (OTIs) also provide training to workers, employers, and other safety professionals across the nation.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Trade Release

U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Office of Communications
Washington, D.C.
www.osha.gov
For Immediate Release
December 17, 2019
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999
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Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards

This past September the top 10 most frequently citedFall Protection Safety Training
workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2019 were released by OSHA. It is common knowledge that the rankings for the top 10 generally do not vary much from year to year. This does not mean the list is irrelevant or unimportant.

Each violation that occurred is a reminder of the hazards employees face on a daily basis when they clock in for work. And each violation that occurred most likely resulted in an injury of some type, maybe even death! The list serves as a reminder there is still work to be done to ensure the safety of all U.S. workers. As you read through the list, let it ignite a desire to expect better and to be proactive where safety is concerned as a company, as an employer, and as an employee.

OSHA’s Top 10 most cited workplace safety violations

Fall Protection (1926.501) leads the list again for the
ninth consecutive year with over 6,000 violations. Moving up a spot is
Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) from number five last year to number four. It
switched places with Respiratory Protection (1910.134) which is down to number
five. Here is the complete list:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) with 6,010 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) with 3,671 violations
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451) with 2,813 violations
  4. Lockout / Tagout (1910.147) with 2,606 violations
  5. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) with 2,450 violations
  6. Ladders (1926.1053) with 2,345 violations
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) with 2,093 violations
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) with 1,773 violations
  9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) with 1,743 violations
  10. PPE Eye and Face Protection (1926.102) with 1,411 violations

As responsible employers, we must do our best to ensure the safety and health of our employees. Keep these topics in mind as you think through your safety training schedule for 2020. How can you mitigate risks? How can you ensure your employees understand the material?