A century ago employers would quake if they heard workers starting to chant “Down Tools! Down Tools! Down Tools!” because it meant the beginning of a sit-down strike.

In this century, eleven government and professional organizations are urging employers to sit their workers down and seriously discuss the number one cause of death in our industry—falls. Many of those deaths were preventable, which is why ECAsupports this effort.

Fatalities caused by falls accounted for 366 of the 971 construction fatalities recorded in 2017 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The May 6-10 “National Safety Stand-Down” is designed to raise fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop these unnecessary fall fatalities and injuries.

This sixth Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any construction workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. It can also be a feedback opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall and other job hazards they see.

We put special emphasis on that opportunity because this is a day when management, from the top down, should be active participants, not something shoved off on lower level employees.

Fed/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 Engineers (ASSE), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.

Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity such as 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 anytime. OSHA has an action plan on how to set up and tailor a Stand Down that fits your company at https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/suggestions.html.

Safety is the number one priority for ECA members and a Stand Down program is an important tool in making that point to your workers and the public.

By Brendan Slagle, ECA President Email: [email protected]