In the first three months of 2015, three construction workers in Washington state died from falls. Falls account for the highest number of deaths among construction workers nationally and more than half of all worker hospitalizations across all industries in Washington.
Because of the high number of construction-related falls, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has teamed up with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the second year to sponsor a “Safety Stand-Down.” The work site safety focus started last week and runs through Friday, May 15.
“It’s time to be proactive as opposed to reactive to help prevent all accidents on our job sites—especially life threatening accidents from falls.”
A safety stand-down is a voluntary event where employers take time at a construction site to discuss potential hazards and how to prevent injuries. It could be a short toolbox talk, refresher training, reviewing safety bulletins or watching a safety video.
“Fatal falls are preventable but it takes a dedicated effort by employers and workers to make it an important part of every workplace safety plan,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “We’re asking all construction employers to pause in their workday and talk with their workers about preventing these tragedies.”
As part of the effort, L&I sent educational materials to all construction employers, is running bus ads in several communities, and is promoting the event through social media.
Construction is really picking up in our state, so it’s more important than ever to reinforce the importance of fall prevention, according to John Erwin, owner of John Erwin Remodeling Inc., and former president of Olympia Master Builders. “Three construction workers have died this year in our state, which is tragic. None of us would want that to happen on our job sites. It’s time to be proactive as opposed to reactive to help prevent all accidents on our job sites—especially life threatening accidents from falls,” said Erwin.
As part of his safety stand-down, Erwin directed his staff to inspect all their ladders and ended up taking two of the more well-used but questionable ladders out of service and replaced them with new approved ladders.
Participating employers can print out a certificate of participation and add their name to a list of safety stand-down supporters. For ideas and resources or to get a certificate of participation, visit www.Lni.wa.gov/StopFalls.