This week (May 1-5, 2023) is the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Although the focus is on the construction industry where falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death, the Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across all industries in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.
This event is sponsored by OSHA in partnership with other organizations including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), and the National Safety Council (NSC).
In conjunction with the Safety Stand-Down, OSHA announced this week that it has begun a National Emphasis Program to focus on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for employees working at heights in all industries. The targeted program is based on both OSHA’s enforcement history and information from the Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS). BLS data show that of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in 2021, 680 were associated with falls from elevations, about 13 percent of all deaths.
Companies are encouraged to plan a Stand-Down that works best for their facility’s fall hazards. This could mean just taking some time in the normal workday to focus on discussing fall hazards in the workplace, reviewing safety procedures and policies, and sharing employees’ safety tips related to fall protection. OSHA also offers many resources to help recognize this event.
Even in workplaces such as laboratories where employees don’t generally work from heights, falls can happen at the same level resulting from slips and trips. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls on the same level are the third leading preventable workplace injury or illness event resulting in cases with days away from work. In 2020, 136 workers died and 127,680 were injured from same level falls.
This is a perfect opportunity not only to focus on preventing falls from elevations, but also to review with employees safety practices for preventing falls from the same height including:
- Clean all spills immediately and mark all spills and wet areas
- Remove obstructions from walkways and always keep walkways free of clutter
- Make sure that things being carried or pushed do not prevent seeing obstructions
- Secure mats and other walking surfaces that do not lay flat
- Always close cabinets and storage drawers
- Cover cords/cables that cross walkways
- Keep work areas and walkways well lit
- Wear proper, slip-resistant footwear that is in good condition
- Store frequently used items on lower shelves to avoid having to use step stools or ladders
For additional information on the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls, or for assistance in implementing and training on a slip, trip, and fall policy at your workplace, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog was written by Beth Graham, Safety Partners’ Director of Quality, Research, and Training.