Each year falls cause more disabling injuries and deaths in Washington than any other workplace hazard, and construction workers die from falls more than workers in any other industry. Sixteen workers died at Washington construction sites in 2017; ten of those were from falls.
The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is committed to reducing the number of fall-related injuries and deaths. The agency partners every year with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to sponsor a “Safety Stand-Down” at worksites across the state. This year’s event runs the week of May 7-11.
During the Stand-Down, construction employers are encouraged to voluntarily take time to discuss fall hazards and how to prevent falls with workers. Stand-down events take a variety of forms like a short toolbox talk, refresher training, reviewing safety bulletins or watching a safety video.
“Falls from heights, such as from a ladder or roof, are the number one cause of hospitalizations and deaths in our workplaces every year,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “It’s all the more heartbreaking because every one of them is preventable.”
To help employers with their stand-down events, L&I provides various tools on its Safety Stand-Down resources website, including safety videos and training documents. Employers can learn more about the stand-down and get some ideas about how to host an event.
The department also encourages employers to share their feedback and success stories on the Stand-Down website. Employers who host stand-down events and complete the online feedback survey are eligible to receive free gear. They may also print out a certificate of participation on the website and add their names to a list of safety stand-down supporters.