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The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has announced the kick-off of its national effort to bring about fall safety and protection awareness. So-called “Stand-Down” safety events are taking place this week all across the country – reaching more than 1 million workers and bringing together tens of thousands of companies.

The reason? Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death in the construction industry. A recorded 279 of the 775 construction fatalities in 2012 were fall-related. In that same year, more than 8,800 construction workers were seriously injured by falls. From June 2nd to the 6th, employers and workers will voluntarily cease work (or “stand-down”) to conduct toolbox talks or other safety activities such as equipment inspections, rescue plan development or to discuss job specific hazards.

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

“This is an unprecedented effort with a record number of participants coming together for worker safety,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The economy is on the rebound, housing starts are on the rise, and the summer construction season is getting underway. Now is the time to focus on this vital safety issue and make sure all construction workers get to come home at the end of every workday.”

“Our message is ‘safety pays and falls cost,'” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “We emphasize planning ahead, providing the right equipment—such as guard rails or safety harnesses, lines and anchors—and training all employees, three simple steps can save lives.”

During this week, OSHA has partnered with several organizations including the Associated General Contractors of America, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Roofing Contractors Association, the Steel Erection Association and more than ten international unions including the Carpenters Union, the Laborers Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Ironworkers Union as well as community organizations, faith-based organizations and universities nationwide.

Currently, Stand-Down safety events are scheduled at more than 25,000 workplaces nationwide. For a complete list of stand-downs open to the public, visit OSHA’s National Safety Fall-Down calendar of events.

Materials to use in stand-downs, including posters, factsheets, safety videos, stickers and tool box talks, can be found on OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign Web page.