Fatal falls continue to be one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry, with a staggering 395 out of 1069 construction fatalities in 2022 attributed to falls. These numbers aren’t just statistics; they represent real lives that could have been saved through proper safety practices and awareness.

This is where the National Safety Stand-Down initiative helps. This year the time for reflection is May 6th through the 10th, so gather the team and share everything from ideas to protocols and encourage discussion around close calls; they’re lessons in themselves.

What is a Safety Stand-Down Week?

The Safety Stand-Down week is held during the first work week in May by specialists around the country and is a time to pause the routine to reflect and speak about working at heights safely. The concept was developed primarily through construction companies who were looking for ways to reduce falls. It has further evolved into so much more, from Construction sites to the Air Force, everyone working at heights is standing down to increase awareness.

The Goal of the Safety Stand-Down

The primary goal of a Safety Stand-Down is to prevent fatalities and injuries from falls, which are among the leading causes of workplace deaths, especially in industries like construction. By dedicating time to discuss and train on fall prevention, companies aim to enhance the safety knowledge and practices of their workers.

How It Works

During a Stand-Down, employers and employees take a break from their usual tasks to engage in activities focused on safety. These activities typically include:

  • Toolbox Talks: Short, informal group discussions led by experienced workers or managers to talk about specific safety issues or tasks.
  • Safety Demonstrations: Practical demonstrations on how to use safety equipment properly or perform tasks safely.
  • Equipment Inspections: Checking safety equipment and tools to ensure they are in good condition and safe to use.
  • Rescue Plan Development: Planning and practicing what to do in case an accident occurs, particularly one involving falls where rapid response is critical.
  • Safety Walk-Arounds: Managers and safety officers walk through the job site to identify and discuss potential hazards.
construction specialists standing down on national safety stand down day


The benefits of conducting a Safety Stand-Down extend beyond reducing the number of falls or accidents. These events:

  • Promote Open Communication: They foster an open dialogue between management and staff about safety, encouraging workers to express concerns and ask questions.
  • Reinforce Safety Culture: Regular Stand-Downs reinforce a culture of safety that prioritizes the well-being of employees, which can lead to increased morale and productivity.
  • Educate New and Existing Employees: They provide a platform for training new workers and refreshing the knowledge of existing employees on safety protocols and hazard recognition.
  • Highlight Company Commitment to Safety: They demonstrate a company’s commitment to safety, which can enhance its reputation in the industry and with clients.

Who Can Participate?

Virtually anyone concerned with workplace safety is encouraged to participate. In past years, the range of participants has been vast, from small residential contractors to large commercial construction firms, highway construction groups, general industry employers, and even military and government bodies. The initiative is supported by an array of partners, including OSHA, NIOSH, and safety organizations like the American Society of Safety Professionals and the National Safety Council, making it a collective effort to enhance workplace safety.

How Did It Start?

The National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction kicked off as part of a bigger push called the Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction, which started in 2012. This initiative was a joint effort by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) in the construction sector. They began this campaign in response to some pretty worrying numbers showing that falls were the number one cause of deaths on construction sites.

The idea was simple but important: stop the workday for a bit and talk about how to prevent falls. Employers and workers would get together to go over everything from the right way to use ladders and harnesses to setting up scaffolding safely. The aim was to make these talks a regular thing, where everyone from the boss to the newest worker could speak up about safety and learn something new.

Conducting a Successful Safety Stand-Down

Organizing a Safety Stand-Down can be straightforward. It often involves activities like toolbox talks, safety equipment checks, and discussions on job-specific hazards and safety plans. OSHA provides guidelines and suggestions for a successful event, including preparation tips and examples from past Stand-Downs. This support is invaluable in ensuring that the events are impactful.

Get Involved and Make a Difference

As part of the initiative, participants can share their experiences and takeaways with OSHA to help shape future safety programs. By conducting a Safety Stand-Down, employers not only contribute to the safety of their workforce but also gain insights into the effectiveness of their current safety measures.

In conclusion, participating in the National Safety Stand-Down is more than just a regulatory compliance or a one-time event; it’s an ongoing commitment to the safety and well-being of every worker. It’s about building a culture where safety is prioritized and discussed openly. With each Stand-Down, we move closer to a future where workplace fatalities, particularly those from falls, are a thing of the past. Join the movement, host a Stand-Down, and take a stand for safety.