How to Hold an Effective Safety Stand-Down
The week of September 14-18, 2020, marks the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) 7th Annual Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls. This event is designed to bring awareness to the growing number of fatalities caused by falls from elevation in the construction industry. In 2018 alone, 320 out of the 1,008 construction-related fatalities were caused by fall hazards. Each year, stand-downs occur in all 50 states and internationally with participants from all trades and construction companies of all sizes, including highway construction companies, general industry employers, residential construction contractors, and more.
OSHA partners with a number of key groups to assist with this effort, such as state consultation programs, the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the U.S. Air Force, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), just to name a few. To participate, companies simply take a break to have a toolbox talk in which they directly speak to their employees about safety or perform another safety activity, such as conducting safety equipment inspections. The effectiveness of the stand-down depends on how you adapt the activity to fit your workplace. For a legal ally who can help you meet OSHA requirements, provide assistance during inspections, or defend your business against a citation, contact a Michigan OSHA defense attorney.
Participation is Key
The most important aspect of any effective stand-down is participation. After all, fall hazards are not a one-sided conversation. This topic affects everyone involved in the project, from contractors and subcontractors to engineers and architects. To ensure involvement, you want to first pick a good time throughout the day to host the event. All workers present on the jobsite deserve an opportunity to attend the stand-down without taking time away from lunchtime or break time.
Next, you’ll want to have a solid promotion. Announce the date and time of the stand-down as soon as possible to grab the attention of your employees and ensure them that their input regarding fall hazards or safety procedures is valued. During the stand-down, OSHA recommends incorporating hands-on exercises that encourage your employees to speak up about how the current safety procedures are working. Some ideas for hand-on activities to foster involvement include asking attendees questions about fall hazards, sharing statistics, asking attendees to share their experiences, and showing OSHA Prevention Videos.
Related: Preparing for a Safety Stand-Down
Review Your Current Fall Protection Program
It should go without saying that you can’t have an effective stand-down without an appropriate fall prevention program in place. We recommend consulting a Michigan OSHA defense lawyer who has years of experience working in the industry and handling OSHA rules and regulations to review your current program, decide which areas are working, and which areas are in need of improvement. This is a great opportunity to ask for feedback from your workers as well. To assist you in this process, here is a short list of questions to go through when reviewing your current fall protection program:
- What fall hazards present themselves on your jobsite?
- Has this plan resulted in any incidents or near-misses on your jobsite?
- Have you provided the appropriate training to your workers?
- Have you provided the appropriate equipment to your workers?
- What procedures would you eliminate?
- What procedures would you change?
- What procedures would you like to add?
Once you’ve gone through this checklist and prepared activities that will foster participation during the stand-down, you’re ready to hold the meeting. In order to maintain the effectiveness of any presentation, regardless of the content, it’s important that you stay active in emphasizing the topic of the presentation once it’s over. Fall safety shouldn’t become a part of the background but rather an integral part of your daily routine on the jobsite as you attempt to implement as many of the workers’ suggestions that you can and continue to emphasize fall safety.
If you would like to speak with a Michigan OSHA defense attorney, please contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.