Too many Lives lost
Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths in construction, year after year. In 2015, there were a reported 350 deaths due to falls to a lower level— out of a total of 937 construction industry deaths!
Many contractors and project managers grapple with the task of improving site safety, especially when it comes to fall arrest systems. Before you rely on minimum safety requirements (ANSI Z359, OSHA 29 CFR 1910 & 1926), remember that falls are preventable, but only when the right equipment is in use.
common mistakes that workers make when preventing falls from heights:
- Failing to use fall protection: It doesn’t take much for an accident to happen. Any inconsistency in the use of fall protection is likely going to end in a fall. By performing a thorough hazard assessment and ensuring workers use the necessary equipment every time, you can increase safety across the board.
- Not understanding how to use fall protection: Assuming that workers completely understand how to use their equipment can be deadly. Make sure you implement regular training sessions and retrain anytime you witness a worker not using their safety devices correctly.
- Not knowing when to use fall protection: Different applications have different safety requirements. For instance, it’s important for a worker to know when to use a self-retracting lifeline (SRL) that has leading edge capabilities over a standard lifeline. Using the wrong lifeline could cause the line to fray and break, putting the worker in serious danger.
- Using inadequate or damaged equipment: There’s always been confusion around when to retire fall protection equipment. It’s important to train workers to regularly inspect their gear for signs of wear or defect; especially fraying, cuts, heat damage or any other deformity. Gear should be inspected before every use. If equipment is found to have wear or has been deployed, equipment must be removed from service.
- Waiting for an accident to happen before using fall protection: It happens in every industry and in every line of work; people get too comfortable and fail to take the necessary safety precautions. By educating your crew on the seriousness of job site hazards, you can instill a stronger safety culture. Workers should be reminded that a fall doesn’t need to occur before the risk is taken seriously.
OSHA has made it its mission to raise awareness of the risks of working at heights in the hopes of reducing work-related injuries and fatalities. From ladders, scaffolds, stairs and roofs, there are three simple steps that can be utilized on every worksite, anywhere at any time. Plan. Provide. Train.
- Plan ahead and identify all the hazards that are present on a job site. Observe risk factors such as holes, skylights, leading edges or elevated walkways.
- Provide the right equipment to protect the worker without hindering their ability to perform the task. This means staying up to date on all changes to regulations and standards, especially the Final Rule on Walking Working Surfaces.
- Train any employees that will be affected by fall risks. This includes educating workers on how to identify fall hazards and use fall protection and prevention equipment properly.
For such a complicated safety concern, the solution is simple. The more workers understand the reasons behind fall protection requirements, the more likely they will be to use it when it matters. That’s why ongoing fall protection training is crucial for worker safety. Make sure your team is educated and knowledgeable about the gear that protects them every day and reduce worksite injury.