Today is a day like any other. The sun rose. People went to work to build our homes, our businesses and our bridges. By day's end, not all of them will go home. Each year, hundreds of workers die and thousands more suffer serious injuries because they fell and lacked the right safety equipment or knowledge to prevent it. For constructions workers, falls are the leading cause of death.
Starting today, a record number of companies and workers around the country are expected to join the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the next two weeks in the second annual National Fall Safety Stand-Down to focus on preventing these tragic deaths and catastrophic deaths and injuries.
"Last year's Stand-Down was a big success. More than 5,000 employers talked about fall protection with more than a million workers. It was a tremendous commitment to safety on the part of businesses and workers alike. I am confident that we can do even better this year," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "The construction industry is so important to our economy. We all depend on it every day. It drives growth and prosperity. It generates good, middle-class jobs that can support a family. But we have to make sure those jobs are as safe as they can possibly be. That's why fall prevention and this Stand-Down are so important."
Fall protection is the most frequently cited OSHA violation, proving the size of this problem.
During the two-week Stand-Down, employers and workers will voluntarily stop work to focus on these hazards and preventing them. Industry and business leaders, including universities, labor organizations, and community and faith-based groups, have scheduled Stand-Downs in all 50 states. In addition, the U.S. Air Force will be hosting fall Stand-Downs at bases worldwide and a major event will be co-hosted at the United States Capitol Dome with Turner Construction.
"The people that fall are not just numbers, they are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "The cost of building our nation and economy cannot be the lives of its workforce, and that's what this Stand-Down is all about. These deaths are preventable if we plan ahead, provide workers the right equipment and train each and every one of them how to use it."
The National Safety stand-down is part of OSHA's fall prevention campaign, launched two 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.
"Construction workers help build our communities, and we must look to keep these communities whole by preventing these tragedies," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "This safety Stand-Down serves as an important opportunity for everyone to take the time to learn how to recognize and prevent fall hazards."
The National Safety Stand-Down Web page provides details on: how to conduct a Stand-Down; receive a certificate of participation; and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. For a list of Stand-Down events free and open to the public near you, please visit the Stand-Down calendar of events. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list of all events taking place across the country.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/.