Falls are the leading cause of workplace injury and death in the construction industry.
In fact, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) estimates more than 200 construction workers die from falls each year in the United States. And, more than 10,000 others are injured.
However, many employers struggle with fall prevention and how to avoid these workplace accidents. In my 17 years as a safety professional conducting accident investigations, a common theme emerges over and over: there is a lack of adequate training in fall protection.
Take a break for training
During the week of May 7-11, there’s a call for construction workers all over the country to stand-down for construction safety. Specifically, to stop work for a few minutes each day for additional fall protection training. The fifth annual National Safety Stand-Down raises awareness of fall hazards, how serious they are, and how to protect your workers. The campaign’s goal is to prevent injuries and deaths that result when workers fall from a roof, ladder, scaffold, or other elevated surface.
The Stand-Down campaign focuses on three strategies:
- Pre-planning safety measures into each job.
- The provision of proper safety equipment, such as the fall arrest harness.
- Training specific to roof, ladder, and scaffold safety.
Your Stand-Down activities can be in the form of a traditional toolbox or tailgate meeting. You can also plan safety activities, and hold discussions with your employees about how to prevent falls.
The CPWR has a five-day plan you can use, or can come up with a plan on your own. And, if you are not able to hold your own stand-down during the week of May 7 or just need more time to prepare, you can always hold it later in the year. You might even consider doing this a couple of times as a way to provide additional training on preventing falls.
Fall protection equipment makes for a safer workplace, but only if your employees know how to use it. Standing down from work for a few minutes and providing additional training on fall protection shows your employees you are serious about their safety.
For additional information about the National Safety Stand-Down, please see: