Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 370 of the 991 construction fatalities recorded in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These workplace injuries and deaths are preventable. In honor of OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in the construction industry this week, we’d like to support these efforts by suggesting three ways to reinforce your stand-down efforts. By understanding your psychological characteristics and tendencies, you are more easily able to maintain a safe workplace and make the most out of this campaign.

A big component of Caution, the fourth factor in the S.A.F.E. Model of Personal Safety, is risk-taking, which is critical to fall prevention. Many falls can be partly attributed to workers simply being overly comfortable with the risks of working at heights, despite knowing fall prevention policies and being trained on proper fall arrest equipment.

Risk-taking can vary substantially across individuals. For example, our studies show that about 15% of individuals can be described as high risk takers when it comes to safety, another 25% are fairly active risk-avoiders, and the remaining 60% commonly take some type of safety risks depending on the situation at hand. Unfortunately, in construction, taking a risk when working at heights can result in death.