Today marks the beginning of the 5th annual “OSHA National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction Week.” From May 7-11, thousands of construction jobsites across the country will hold a safety Stand-Down event. It’s time all industries join construction and take a moment to pause and talk about safety hazards at work.
A safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event to allow for employers to speak with its employees about safety at work. Any workplace can conduct a safety talk, and any topic can be focused on – distracted driving, proper lifting, emergency evacuation, workplace stress, etc. Just because OSHA refers to it as: “Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction Week” doesn’t mean this week is only for construction and the only topic is falls. This weeklong tribute to safety was born out of the construction industry and falls are the leading cause of casualties in this industry so I assume OSHA wanted to draw more attention and training to falls hazards.
However, over its brief five-year existence, this has grown and more and more industries are celebrating safety during this week. Every year more non-construction employers are holding Stand-Downs. In fact, OSHA claims that the largest single participant for one stand-down was the United States Air Force in 2015 and 2016, both times reaching more than one million military and civilian personnel.
The Keystone Contractors Association is a commercial construction trade association. We hope 100 percent of our members participate in an OSHA Stand-Down this year. We, the association staff, are not construction professionals – we work in an office providing various services to contractors. But our staff of three will conduct our Stand-Down on emergency evacuation. Hopefully we won’t find ourselves in an emergency in real life, but thanks to this year’s Stand-Down we’ll be prepared. This also shows that any sized employer can hold a Stand-Down.
Following the Stand-Down, employers should visit the OSHA Stand-Down website to download a certificate and provide feedback on the experience. (https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/index.html). The sharing of best practices is an excellent way to improve safety and protect our workers.
At KCA we believe that teamwork improves safety and we hope that work teams across Pennsylvania will take a moment to focus on Safety during May 7-11!
Jon O’Brien is the Executive Director of Keystone Contractors Association.