According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls from heights continue to be the leading cause of preventable death for construction workers. Winter weather hazards like icy surfaces, extremely low temperatures, and weather-related factors like wind or freezing rain can all contribute to worker illness and injury.
In response to this, OSHA launched the ‘National Safety Stand-Down’ in 2014 to raise awareness of and prevent fall hazards on work sites. A stand-down is an opportunity for employers, contractors, commercial construction companies and more to have conversations with their employees about workplace safety. Currently, it’s estimated that five million construction employees across the United States have participated in a National Safety Stand Down event.
How to organize a winter Safety Stand-Down event
Holding a winter safety stand-down is easy and is a meaningful opportunity for employers and their workers to discuss safety issues. For example, an event can be as brief as a five-minute winter footwear review to a more time-intensive inspection of a company’s fall protection equipment.
According to OSHA, most deaths and non-fatal injuries involving falls on the job are preventable and were caused by “the violation of established standards, and utilizing the proper training, equipment or prevention procedures could have mitigated tragic consequences”.
Winter work safety topics can include:
- Proper use of fall arrest or safety net systems
- Winter maintenance of tools or machinery
- Training on ladder, scaffold and roof safety in winter conditions
- Reducing injuries working on icy surfaces from a height
- Preventing slips by wearing appropriate clothing and work gear
Stand-downs aren’t new to the construction industry. The chapters of the Associated General Contractors of America organize events across the nation regularly to encourage increased worker safety and morale.
Are you a construction worker or other employee affected by winter work hazards? Reach out to your employer to discuss how a winter safety stand-down event can help prevent on-the-job injuries and fatalities.
Workers who are injured on the job due to winter hazards or unsafe working conditions may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Consult with an experienced work injury lawyer to ensure you have all you need to file your claim.