Citing even more compelling reasons this year than last for getting the construction-safety message out, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced it will be holding its second annual National Fall Safety Stand-Down in May.
“With the economy on the rebound and housing starts on the rise, now is the time for all of us to renew our commitment to sending workers home safe every night,” says Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.
According to OSHA, falls are still the leading cause of death in the construction industry, as hundreds of workers die each year and thousands more suffer catastrophic, debilitating injuries. Yet, lack of proper fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation by the agency.
Building on last year’s widespread participation in the one-week event, which Staff Writer Mark McGraw wrote about in this blog post, OSHA decided to expand it from one week to two weeks, now scheduled for May 4 through 15. During that time, the agency notes in its release, “employers and workers will pause during their workday for topic talks, demonstrations and training on how to use safety harnesses, guard rails and other means to protect workers from falls.” It adds:
“Underscoring the importance of this effort, industry and business leaders, including universities, labor organizations, and community and faith-based groups, have already begun scheduling 2015 stand-downs in all 50 states and around the world.”
The stand-down initiative is part of OSHA’s fall prevention campaign, launched three years ago with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda and The Center for Construction Research and Training, according to the announcement on Feb. 18. It cites numerous other partners for this year’s event as well.
“Given the tremendous response we’ve received, it’s clear that this is an important issue to a great number of people across this nation,” says Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.
In the added words of NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, “no child should lose a parent, no wife should lose a husband and no worker should lose [his or her] life in a preventable fall.”
I plan to follow this and perhaps report on this year’s participation to get an idea of just how committed the business community is to improving safety, and reducing these injuries and deaths. Stay tuned.