Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez Press Statement
National Safety Stand-Down Press Call
June 2, 2014
Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us to discuss this serious safety issue for American workers.
Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Almost 300 construction workers died in falls in 2012 -- that's nearly one every day. Thousands more were seriously injured. These are senseless tragedies that are preventable -- through planning at the worksite and by providing proper fall protection and training on how to use it.
This week, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is partnering with tens of thousands of businesses for a national safety "stand-down" to stop fatal falls. During Stand-Down events, a record number of companies and workers nationwide will voluntarily pause work to raise awareness about fall hazards and how to prevent them.
These events will run throughout the week all across the country. We estimate that more than a million workers and over 25,000 businesses will participate. This is an unprecedented effort and we want the outcome - in the form of fewer fatal accidents -- to be unprecedented as well. Never before have we been able to reach such a large number of people with a single worker safety initiative, and it couldn't come at a more vital time.
With the economy recovering and housing starts on the rise, this is the moment to ensure that no one has to lose their life in order to make a living. The summer construction season is underway as we speak. Now is the moment to make sure those who build our homes are able to return safe and sound to their own homes every night.
And this isn't just about the construction industry. Fatal falls and injuries touch workers in all kinds of jobs across the country. It's a widespread problem that has a devastating impact not only on workers and their families, but on our economy. The record number of people mobilizing for this Stand-Down just underscores what we can all accomplish when we work together.
The U.S. Air Force will be hosting fall stand-down events at their bases worldwide -- so we can ensure the job safety of the men and women who keep us safe every day. At the Daytona Speedway, where a massive renovation project is currently underway, NASCAR driver Greg Biffle will emphasize the importance of fall safety by strapping on a fall arrest system rather than strapping into his car.
These are just a few examples of innovative stand-down activities taking place this week. Working with labor unions, business leaders, community groups, universities and safety and health professionals, we can make a real difference in preventing falls. We can Stand-Down for Safety and we can save lives.
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