Safety Stand-Down Week: Prevent Falls in Construction

 

Steve Hess, Vice President, Safety & Training Services

Historically, falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction, accounting for 366 of the 971 construction fatalities recorded in 2017. To raise awareness of fall prevention practices, OSHA has designated May 6-10 as National Safety Stand-Down Week. A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event where employers stop work to focus on safety concerns related to falls from elevation. Keeping our team members safe is one of our core values, and we’re proud to participate in OSHA’s 6th Annual Safety Stand-Down Week.

In conjunction with holding Safety Stand-Downs at our jobsites across the country, we’re taking this opportunity to share best practices for fall prevention and working safety at elevation. To help reduce fall-related fatalities, OSHA advises employers to: “Plan. Provide. Train.”

Plan. When planning a job that will require working from height, the employer is responsible for ensuring the work will be done safely. “When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site,” OSHA states.

Provide. Employers must provide fall protection and related equipment, such as ladders, scaffolds and safety gear, to employees working 6 feet or more above a lower level. “When personal fall arrest systems are used, provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor, and make sure the harness and the equipment properly fits the worker and is regularly inspected,” OSHA states.

For formwork operations, employees must always stay tied off while working inside the controlled access zone constructing the formwork leading edge and when working along the vertical face of formwork, such as column or wall forms. In addition, workers need to make sure that all holes are protected by guardrails or covers and that covers are secured and marked DANGER HOLE. When installing or removing guardrails or covers, employees must be tied off.

Train. Every worker should be trained on the proper setup and safe use of fall protection equipment. When working with ladders, workers should know to maintain three points of contact, keep the ladder on a level surface, secure the ladder by locking its metal braces and refrain from overreaching when standing on the rungs. OSHA states, “When working on a scaffold, employees must know how to set up the scaffold, including how to install guardrails, ensure stable footing will be maintained, and level the scaffold. Additionally, a competent person should inspect the scaffold before use.”

Carrying out the Training. Short and direct Toolbox Talks are a very efficient way to reach workers with health and safety information. Like all training, delivering the information effectively takes preparation and a desire to involve the workers in health and safety at the workplace. Employers may train workers to lead the training or have supervisors provide the training. Studies have shown peer-to-peer training is effective, participatory and well-retained.

For more information on safety practices at Tribco, contact Steve Hess at shess@heicocg.com.