Join your brothers and sisters in arms across the country for National Safety Stand-Down, May 7 - May 11. It’s easy. Gather your crew for a toolbox talk, conduct an equipment inspection or discuss job-specific hazards. (Just don’t forget the donuts.) You can even check out our ever-expanding library of Toolbox Talks to help lead the discussion.
How is it that in this day and age of real-time data, education and technology, U.S. worker fatalities actually increased 7% to 5,190 in 2016? The spike was even more dramatic (24%) in our home state of Minnesota, where workers experienced their deadliest year on the job since 1996.
Clearly, we must do better.
National Safety Stand-Down is an opportunity for us all to discuss how to get there. To raise awareness. To set our sights on a higher standard of worker safety.
Why stand down? Because there’s still work to do.
Take the hazard of dropped objects. National Safety Stand-Down started in 2014 with a focus on fall prevention for workers, and we’ve taken the opportunity every year to add the worthy topic of fall prevention for the tools those workers are bringing to heights as well.
SETTING A HIGHER STANDARD IN AT-HEIGHTS SAFETY
Dropped objects prevention is an often forgotten about (or straight-up ignored) aspect of at-heights safety, but the numbers and news headlines prove they shouldn’t be.
Many in the safety and construction industries heard the tragic story of the 58-year-old man from New Jersey who lost his life in 2014 after being struck by a tape measure that had fallen from 50 stories above. That story went viral, but there are a lot more we don’t ever hear about. Severe injury and fatality from dropped objects – even something as small as a bolt on a Kansas Wind Farm – are all too common.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falling objects accounted for 255 fatalities and almost 48,000 injuries in 2016.
Then there are the close calls and incidents that don’t get reported. The undiagnosed concussions from something hitting a worker in the hard hat or a near miss that could have been tragic with one step forward or back.
WHY STOP AT “PROTECTION”?
A variety of PPE has been invented to protect people against flying and falling objects. The most commonly deployed have been around for the better part of a century. Safety glasses of today were invented in 1914, hard hats in 1919 and steel toe boots in 1930. All designed to protect workers against falling and flying objects.
The problem is these solutions can only protect you under certain circumstances. A hard hat may help against material falling from a few stories, but think about a tool falling from 50+ stories or one that strikes a worker in the shoulder or back.
PPE is always the last line of defense against dropped objects, so why not prevent the objects from ever falling in the first place? Nearly a hundred years since its invention, are we still OK with just popping a hard hat on and calling it good?
That question is at the heart of our conversation during National Safety Stand-Down.
(Spoiler alert: the answer is absolutely, positively not.)
WHAT IS A SAFETY STAND-DOWN?
Whether it be focused around a toolbox talk, equipment safety inspection or just a frank open forum to address safety concerns, a stand-down is an opportunity for crews to break and talk directly to managers about safety in the workplace. Simple as that.
National Safety Stand-Down was born out of a concern for fall hazards in construction, but in workplaces where fall hazards do not exist, other job hazards, protective measures, and safety goals can be discussed.
We take the opportunity to raise awareness for another at-heights safety concern related to fall prevention in construction: dropped objects.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?
Anybody can participate in a stand-down. Across all industries and employers, worker safety is an issue that should not stay in the shadows and should be owned by workers and employers alike.
WHERE CAN I GET SAFETY STAND-DOWN MATERIALS LIKE TOOLBOX TALKS?
The Tenacious Blog and Tenacious University Library are two great resources. From toolbox talks and other informational blog posts, to webinars, videos, posters and more, you’ll find plenty of materials to guide your stand-down.
You can also find more info on OSHA’s official National Safety Stand-Down website.