May 7th till May 11th 2018 is National Safety Stand-Down week in the US. Initiated by OSHA, on this day employers are encouraged to talk to their employees about safety, for example the importance of fall protection. Companies in all industries can join in and promote safety at their worksite(s). We encourage employers from all over the world to also hold safety stand-downs. Safety at work is a very important issue and still far too many fall accidents occur in the workplace, sometimes with devastating outcome.
Even though a safety stand-down is about safety at the workplace, this article is mainly focused on fall accidents, because this is still the number one cause of accidents at the workplace. As face to face communication about fall hazards and fall protection is the most effective, we would like to tell you how to make the most of your safety stand-down specific for the issue of fall protection.
Take a break to discuss fall hazards
In a safety stand-down employers take time out of the work day to have a conversation with employees about fall hazards, fall protection equipment and the company’s safety policies. Putting down the work for a moment emphasizes the importance of safety at the workplace. A stand-down can be organized at any time, preferably before accidents occur as to prevent them from happening at all.
The National Safety Stand-Down, as mentioned by OSHA.
Tips for hosting a stand-down
When organizing a stand-down you want the meeting to be meaningful, to spark discussion and for employees to remember the issues discussed. Therefore we have put together a list of 12 tips on how to make your stand-down for fall protection successful.
Choose an interesting and engaging topic to use as the focus of your stand-down. For example you may want to focus on personal protective equipment (PPE) if you know that’s an issue in your company. Or make the decision to identify fall hazards at the workplace. No matter how serious the issue is, try to create a positive atmosphere as this will make employees more receptive to your message.
When planning your safety stand-down, try to plan around lunch- and break times. This way the stand-down will be more special to employees.
Announce the time and date of the stand-down as soon as possible, and promote your stand-down to grab the attention of your employees. Make sure that they understand that their input about possible fall hazards, safety procedures or fall protection equipment is highly valued.
If your employees are out regularly you may have to plan extra stand-down meetings to cover their schedules.
Visuals have great impact on people, so use visuals in your presentation. But do ensure that they are useful to your story and that they capture the attention of your audience. Too much can make your presentation into a mess.
OSHA also publishes a lot of resources you can use for your stand-down, such as fall prevention videos.
If it is possible take your employees through the workplace and point out safety hazards ‘live’. Discuss how safety procedures and the right PPE can keep them safe. When doing this, you can also ask employees to point out dangerous situations where a fall may occur.
A logical place to start your stand-down are the basic rules and guidelines for preventing falls. No matter how many times you’ve told your employees the basics, as long as there are still fall accidents there is reason to reiterate. So go over the company’s safety policies, the fall hazards on site and the fall protection equipment available.
A one sided stand-down is a recipe for a failed stand-down. Involve your audience and encourage discussion, this way the knowledge will stick better. For example you can make an exercise about checking PPE for tear and wear. Or you can ask employees questions about potential fall hazards on site, or experiences they’ve had. You can also choose to use some of OSHA’s prevention videos.
Take a look at your current procedures for preventing falls. Are they working properly? Are employees aware of the procedures? What can be improved? Ask for feedback from your workers as well.
Discuss incidents that have happened, and give feedback on the status of the investigation, if there was any. Ask for examples of near-misses and discuss what can be done to prevent them. Doing all this gives employees insight in the changes your organization makes or will make to improve safety. It also gives employees credit for filing issues in the first place.
Reference materials, such as handouts, help keep employees focused during the meeting. It also gives employees something to look at afterwards, so they will not immediately forget the information. You can also provide employees with, for example, a stop and go card. They can use the questions on this card to determine if they can start the work. If any of the questions have to be answered negatively they cannot start and the hazardous situation will have to be adjusted first.
If you get any suggestions from workers, implement them. Your employees are confronted with work site safety daily and may have valuable practical insights to share.
Even when Safety Stand-Down week is over, the work never is. And the risk of falls won’t go away either. So continue to build awareness and encourage safety throughout the year. You can do this by, for example, putting fall protection first on every meeting’s agenda.
Falls and the subsequent injuries are costly. Stand-downs for fall protection are a good instrument in combatting incidents and fatalities. In combination with fall protection training, stand-downs raise awareness among employees and help create a safe work environment.
Download Safety Stand-Down poster
We put all the tips for a safety stand-down in a poster. Download it for free and use it to make your stand-down for fall protection a success.