From May 4 – 15, OSHA is promoting its second annual National Fall Prevention Stand-Down program. This program is to increase awareness of the fall hazards associated with construction work. Falls from heights continue to be one of the top causes of workplace fatalities. In 2013, 291 workers died from falls, with 25 percent of those occurring from a height of 10 feet or less.

The goal of the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down program is to raise awareness about fall hazards, and remind workers of the importance of using proper fall protection equipment and safe practices. Companies are encouraged to take time during this period to talk to employees about fall protection and prevention.

Businesses should schedule safety meetings to refresh workers’ knowledge of the proper use of fall protection equipment, climbing techniques, and ladder safety. This is also an excellent time to conduct inspections of fall protection PPE and create or review their respective rescue plans.
By ensuring proper steps are taken, workers can be protected. Roofers should be reminded to always:

• Wear a harness and stay connected
• Make sure the harness fits
• Use guardrails or lifelines
• Inspect all fall protection PPE before use
• Ensure all holes, openings, and skylights are guarded
When working from ladders, ensure workers:
• Choose the right ladder for the job
• Maintain three points of contact
• Secure the ladder
• Always face the ladder

For this year, the OSHA goal for the stand-down program is to have more than 20,000 companies participate, to reach an estimated 3 million workers, or roughly 40 percent of the affected workforce. Companies that take part in the stand-down are also eligible to receive a certificate of participation from OSHA.

Whether employees are working on roofs, scaffolds, or ladders, fall protection is essential. Falls can be prevented by planning, effective training, using proper equipment, and following safe work practices.
The more workers are aware of fall hazards the less likely they are to be injured. With commitment to fall prevention and participation in the stand-down program, it may be possible to remove fall injuries and deaths from the OSHA top-ten list.

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