What is a Safety Stand-Down?
Learn About Safety Stand-Downs
Workplace safety should be a paramount concern for every organization. Unfortunately, ladder-related injuries continue to be prevalent and serious hazards in the workplace. From slips and falls to lacerations and fractures, these injuries can have a lasting impact on workers and their families.
Proactive measures are necessary to prevent accidents and injuries, and one such measure is a safety stand-down. A safety stand-down is a voluntary event that consists of temporary cessations of work or operations in which employees receive education and training on specific topics. In the context of ladder safety and fall protection, a stand-down is used to draw attention to fall hazards and provide information on best practices for appropriate ladder use.
Why ladder safety is so important in today’s workplace
In today’s fast-paced workplace, it’s easy for employees to become complacent about safety due to a lack of proper training on ladder usage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020, there were 22,710 injuries where the primary source of the injury was a ladder. At FFVA Mutual, we’ve seen a worrying trend of increasing ladder-related claims, where ladder-related claim costs have averaged $250k+ in 2020 through 2022.
Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that Fall Protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501), Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053) and Fall Protection Training, construction (29 CFR 1926.503) were among the top 10 most frequently cited standards in the 2021 fiscal year, reinforcing the need to address these issues. Employers can reduce the risk of ladder accidents and prevent falls by providing training on the proper use and maintenance of ladders, as well as enforcing a policy for their safe storage and removal from work areas.
The basics of safety stand-downs
Since a safety stand-down is often a new concept for many employers, it’s important to keep in mind the following: Safety stand-downs should be conducted in an environment where employees can freely ask questions without feeling like they’re interrupting or disturbing others. It’s also not intended as punishment or scolding; rather, it should be viewed as an opportunity for workers and management to share information about injury and illness prevention programs.
Moreover, it’s essential to ensure that all affected employees are included in the safety stand-down, no matter what their role may be on site. Employers should include contractors and sub-contractors if they’re working on their property.
The primary goal is to prevent injuries and mitigate workplace safety hazards, but it’s also important to help workers take ownership of the situation so that they feel empowered to make changes in their working environment. This can be done by sharing information about OSHA standards, as well as possible solutions for compliance with those standards.
How to successfully conduct a safety stand-down
You’re off to a good start if you’re doing a safety stand-down. But there are many ways to make it even better. Here are some tips for making your next stand-down more effective:
- Clearly communicate the purpose and objectives of the stand-down.
- Encourage active participation and engagement from all attendees.
- Ensure the discussion covers relevant and up-to-date safety topics.
- Use visual aids such as videos or presentations to enhance understanding.
As far as a stand-down is concerned, the more you do it, the better it will be. The first one may not go as smoothly as you had hoped. But with practice, you’ll get better at conducting stand-downs and they will become more effective.
Ideas for a ladder safety stand-down
Safety is the most important job on any ladder. Employers can use these 7 ladder safety tips to promote ladder safety during a stand-down:
- Review and demonstrate the correct way to inspect a ladder before use.
- Discuss the importance of using the right ladder for the job.
- Teach proper ladder placement and stability.
- Discuss weight limits and the dangers of overloading a ladder.
- Demonstrate how to properly secure the ladder when in use.
- Highlight the importance of keeping the ladder clean and free of debris, which is even more crucial for those in the construction industry.
- Encourage attendees to report any damaged or faulty ladders immediately.
Note that these steps are designed to be used individually or in combination with each other. The idea is to provide a wide variety of options so that you can choose what works best for your needs and situation.
Safety is an ongoing process that needs to be continuously monitored and updated as new hazards are discovered, technologies emerge and safety standards change. Best practice is to conduct regular assessments of the workplace and maintain up-to-date information about what is happening on-site. To help with this we recommend doing the following:
To further emphasize the importance of safety in the workplace, let’s turn to the words of our own Safety and Loss Control Manager, Ernie Medina. “Promoting safety should be a daily effort. Safety campaigns are just one tool to help employers stay proactive, but it’s the employees’ right to work in a hazard-free environment.”
With this in mind, we recommend you take the following steps to ensure the safety of your employees while they work with ladders:
- Assign a team to regularly inspect all ladders in the workplace.
- Create a system for reporting and documenting any incidents or near misses related to ladder usage.
- Make sure all equipment is properly marked and clearly labeled.
- Set up a routine maintenance schedule for all ladders, and ensure it’s followed consistently.
- Promote a positive workplace safety culture.
OSHA’s national safety stand-down to prevent falls in construction are typically held every year in May. Any employer can take part, but in past years, participants have included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, highway construction companies, the U.S. military, safety equipment manufacturers and more.
At FFVA Mutual, we believe that every employer should have access to the resources they need to host successful and effective stand-down events. When you’re looking to host your next stand-down, we encourage you to take time to learn more about ways to hold your own Ladder Safety Stand-Down event and access the many resources available to employers and workers. Our materials include a comprehensive, user-friendly resource on ladder safety that’s packed with useful information and a customizable certificate of participation that you can use to recognize your participants and thank them for their time.
And of course, whenever you need any additional safety support or guidance, our team of Solutionists are always here to help. It’s our goal to help create safer workplaces, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done so far. But safety is a never-ending journey that requires continued vigilance and effort from all parties involved. We hope you join our ladder safety stand-down campaign for more resources and to help us keep this important conversation going.