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We are quickly approaching the annual observance of OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Construction insiders know, this industry moves at a fast pace. Stand-downs take time and time is money. So why does OSHA highlight this as a national observance? In 2019 falls were the second leading cause of workplace fatalities. That year alone, the lives of 1,061 people working in the construction industry were loss to falls that could have been prevented.
In 2019 it was estimated that a worksite fatality will cost the employer and average of $1,220,00. Falls are even more likely to result in injury. Common fall related injuries include fractures, sprains or strains. These medically consulted injuries will cost employers an average of $42,000 each. Collectively, injuries derived from falls to the same level and falls to a lower-level result in employees missing an average of 16 days of work. With the harsh reality of onsite risks and a fall prevention stand-down fast approaching, Safety Mangers and other leaders should be asking how they can make an impact on this day. SiteWell Solutions is ready to help with 10 ideas that provide meaningful employee support in the fight against falls.
Number one on the list due to the essential nature of proper training. When it comes to retention, most people thrive in a smaller group setting with increased interaction. Forgo the mass meeting for breakout sessions catered to the risks associated with different job duties. Take this time for an in-depth review of safety procedures, demonstrations and quality checks of employee comprehension.
The human factor of falls is widely underestimated by both organizations and workers alike. Many elements of human physiology can contribute to a fall. Poor eye-sight impacts depth perception, deficits in musculoskeletal control impact gait and overall balance, dehydration and certain chronic illnesses impair the inner ear’s vestibular system which is directly tied to balance. SiteWell Solutions has identified three of the biggest physiological contributors to falls and developed a 2-minute fall prevention drill to help educate and improve workers’ ability to manage these factors. Check out the video overview of this 2-minute fall prevention drill featured in Industrial Safety & Hygiene News.
Put on the public relations hat for a day and make #StandDownForSafety a social media frenzy. Set up a safe place onsite that allows workers to snap selfies in their proper PPE, or designate a person to photograph best fall prevention / safety practices observed on the jobsite. With the workers consent, post images to social media using the #StandDown4Safety hashtag and crediting the safe worker. Drive participation by incentivizing team members to post their best #StandDown4Safety picture and provide prizes to the winners. We recommend staging an area for all selfie-style pictures to be taken and adding in your own unique hashtag to help find the pictures online. The payoff: recognition from friends, family and coworkers not only helps bridge gaps in the comprehension of construction risks, but also serves as a powerful motivator to uphold best safety practices.
Mix up the speaker monotony with fresh content and a new perspective. Many medical providers are willing to provide community outreach and will present to your team free of charge. Medical doctors have fascinating insights on underlying conditions that may increase fall risk, chiropractors are gait analysis and posture pros, pharmacists can shine light on overlooked medication side effects such as dizziness. Many healthcare providers are more than willing to support #StandDownForSafety by sharing their insights and expertise.
This easy and to-the-point drill is designed to showcase the value of fall protection equipment. The objective is to safely walk team members through a series of realistic scenarios that contribute to falls: loss of footing, changes to center of gravity, shifts in vestibular fluid and impaired vision. Begin with workers standing on level ground with plenty of space between each other as they are meant to be off-balance during this exercise. Complete the instructions below pausing on each step for about 10 seconds.
a. Shift weight to left leg and then lift right foot completely off the ground.
b. Still on one foot, use both hands to reach overhead to mimicking the motion of placing an object on a high shelf.
c. Still on one foot, repeat the motion of placing and object on a shelf. This time encourage workers to “look” at the imaginary object while it is being placed overhead (forcing them to move their head causing shifts to inner ear fluids).
d. Finally, still on one foot, tell workers to continue the above steps with eyes partially or completely closed.
The take-away is an elevated awareness of the personal limitations to balance and the persistent need for fall safety equipment.
High blood pressure is a common chronic illness. Early detection through routine screenings can save employees and employers time, money and hardship. Low blood pressure, while less common, can leave workers susceptible to falls. This is due to a condition called orthostatic hypotension (OT). OT is a rapid drop in blood pressure experienced when a person goes from a seated position or lying down to a standing position. The result can be dizziness or even momentary loss of consciousness. OT can be caused by underlying conditions or have easily remedied behavioral origins such as dehydration. With the understanding that these screenings are not meant to serve as a medical service, an inexpensive and automated screening device can purchased for the event.
Connect workers to the “why” behind their safe practices by making this day family oriented. Host an employee appreciation BBQ or picnic with #StandDownForSafety as your theme, take your team to dinner or designate this day for supervised family site tours. During your event of choice, speak to both the employees and their family members about the reality of fall risks in construction. Reiterate the value of each team members’ safety and the importance of getting home safe each day.
An easy onsite assessment of vision is not meant to be a medical treatment, but may help flag vision deficits in workers. Print a free eye chart and follow the provided instructions for set it up in the office or other well-lit area. Studies show that as many as three out of four adults will need glasses in their lifetime. Since poor vision limits depth perception and increases fall risk, it is important that your team is seeing clearly.
Every construction job has safety blind spots. Where are team members most commonly being corrected for improper practices? What are the highest risk activities onsite? Identify these weak points and develop breakout training sessions to help employees learn more about the risks while improving their personal safety habits. Sessions can be sign-up based and voluntary or workers can be assigned to relevant sessions.
Get your workforce talking openly about fall prevention. Host an open mic style meeting that encourages team members to share concerns, ask questions and relay lessons learned from the current project or prior work. Come to this meeting ready with prompts or
questions to get the group talking. Again, incentives work wonders for driving participation. Reward those willing to speak up with coupons to local hot-spots, breakfast bars, scratch offs or other company approved prize.
These activities demonstrate organizational commitment to employee safety and well-being. Workforces that are empowered with the skills and resources needed to prevent falls can make a difference in the industry as a whole.
SiteWell Solutions is committed to supporting business and organizations with health, wellness and injury prevention services. A healthy workforce is proven to be more engaged, productive and happier. It is our mission to deliver these outcomes to every organization we serve. Our services include onsite and virtual corporate wellness programs, industrial athlete training, injury prevention services, chronic disease management, employee resilience support services and much more. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today to find out how we can optimize your organization.