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Preventing Falls by “Standing Down” at Work

Tom Flanagin

Safety is a top priority for the American Chemistry Council (ACC). ACC’s Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), Diisocyanates (DII) Panel, and Aliphatic Diisocyanates (ADI) Panel recently renewed their partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), continuing their long-standing ACC OSHA Alliance. The Alliance works to provide employers, occupational physicians, stakeholders and others within the polyurethanes value chain with information, resources, and training to help protect the health and safety of workers handling diisocyanates.

Falling from elevated surfaces remains a leading cause of workplace fatalities for construction employees. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 401 of the 1,061 construction-related fatalities recorded in 2019 were related to falls. In an effort to raise awareness of potential fall hazards and preventative measures, OSHA is hosting a National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction week, which takes place May 3-7.

Throughout this past year, protection against COVID-19 has been a primary concern with regard to workplace safety. While mitigating the spread of this deadly virus is of utmost importance, it’s critical to keep in mind that other workplace hazards remain. This week, ACC is supporting OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to remind employers and workers it’s just as vital to limit and prevent those hazards.

What Exactly is a Safety Stand-Down?

OSHA has teamed up with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the National Occupational Research Agenda, and others to promote Safety Stand-Downs. These are voluntary opportunities for employers and employees to take a break from work to discuss potential fall hazards and learn ways to avoid them. These Safety Stand-Downs can come in different forms, from toolbox talks and safety equipment inspections to developing rescue plans and discussing job-specific hazards.

While National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction week primarily focuses on employers whose workers might encounter fall hazards, Safety Stand-Downs aren’t limited to just falls. Employers across the construction industry are also encouraged to take time during this week to discuss with their employees general workplace safety, including such topics as potential job hazards and worker safety. Safety Stand-Downs can be productive communication opportunities, with employees sharing their perspectives on workplace safety.

How Do I Prepare for a Successful Safety Stand-Down?

The polyurethane value chain is broad and includes multiple sectors of the construction industry from roofing to insulation. No matter what industry you work in, it is always important to review best safety practices.

Are you an employer considering holding a Safety Stand-Down, but you don’t know where to start? OSHA has helpful resources and tips on how to prepare for a Safety Stand-Down.

Reviewing your current fall prevention program is key to developing a successful Safety Stand-Down. Understanding the fall hazards that your employees face and the training and safety equipment provided to them may help you determine if your program needs improvements or revisions to meet your company’s goals for workplace safety.

Decide which information will be most helpful and appropriate in keeping your employees safe, and determine a retentive way to deliver that information. Finally, determine the most suitable time of day for holding a Safety Stand-Down, including length of time. The stand-down itself should be positive and interactive.

ACC Remains Committed to Worker Safety

As part of our commitment, ACC continues to develop innovative ways to help ensure worker safety. The ACC OSHA Alliance is dedicated to increasing worker protection and promoting workplace safety through the dissemination of the latest resources, information, and guidance on workplace safety to members, occupational physicians, and stakeholders.

In addition to the ACC OSHA Alliance, ACC requires members to participate in Responsible Care®, the chemical industry’s world-class environmental, health, safety and security performance initiative. Companies that participate in Responsible Care® annually report their progress on a variety of process safety-related performance measures, which ACC makes publicly available online. Companies that participate in Responsible Care® have employee safety records nearly five times better than the U.S. manufacturing sector and almost three times better than the U.S. business of chemistry overall.

Follow along on Twitter (@AmChemistry), where throughout the week, ACC will be sharing tips and resources on how to best protect workers from fall hazards. Also, make sure to share your stand-down story on social media with the hashtag #StandDown4Safety.

About the Author
American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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