A Closer Look at Fall Protection: What Safety Managers Need to Know

Posted by Empire Safety on Apr 5, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Year after year, falls are the leading cause of worker deaths in the construction industry. No matter how well versed in safety procedures management may be, there are important elements that are falling through the cracks. Here's a closer look at fall protection systems, common hazards and recent changes in Walking Working Surfaces and leading edge applications:

(See below for the full text version)

By educating, training workers regularly and re-evaluating fall hazards and fall protection equipment often, we can help keep workers safe and stay on budget.  We hope you find this information helpful and share. When we take a closer look at fall protection, we can make sure every worker goes home safe! For more information, watch this important video on recent updates in Fall Protection Training!

Watch the Fall Protection Training Video Now

 (Full text version)

Statistics say…

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry!*

This affects workers in:

  • Residential construction
  • Commercial construction
  • Marine construction
  • Highway construction
  • General industry
  • Healthcare
  • Transportation and much more…

*Source: 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics

Main Causes of Slips, Trips & Falls

  • Uneven or cluttered floors & walkways
  • Floor wall holes
  • Leading edges
  • Walking-Working surfaces
  • Misused fall protection
  • Climbing ladders
  • Lack of training

Always complete an in-depth hazard assessment!

Don’t let your workers become another statistic

Establishing a Plan of Action

First, Remember ANSI’s Z359.2 Fall Hazard Hierarchy!

  1. Eliminate or Substitute: Plan ahead to avoid putting workers at risk!
  2. Passive Fall Protection: Employ barriers or guardrail systems
  3. Active Fall Restraint: Train workers to properly use restraint systems to keep them away from hazard
  4. Active Fall Arrest: Train workers to use arrest systems to stop a fall, such as self-retracting lanyards and shock absorbing lanyards
  5. Administrative Controls: Use warning flags and alarms in hazardous areas

Choose the RIGHT Protection

Match your fall protection equipment to the hazard and re-evaluate often!

  • Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS)
  • Guardrails & Barriers
  • Self-Retracting Lifelines
  • Rope Grabs
  • Positioning Systems
  • Tool Drop Prevention

Final Rule: Walking Working Surfaces

2017 brought about big changes in general industry. Now employers have the flexibility to choose the right fall protection systems for their workers and their jobs.  Are you familiar with the final rule?

  • Rope descent systems can be uses up to 300 ft. above lower level
  • Employers can now require workers to be trained on fall protection systems & equipment
  • Existing fixed ladder systems taller than 24 ft. must have cage, well or PFAS by 11/19/2018
  • New or repaired fixed ladder systems taller than 24 ft. cannot use cages or wells for fall protection after 11/19/2018
  • Employers have until 2036 to install ladder safety systems on existing ladders
  • Scaffold use in general industry must meet construction requirements CFR 1926 subpart L (over 4 ft. must be protected by PFAS)
  • Unprotected sides and edges on residential roofs require a protection system (guardrail, safety net or PFAS), if not feasible employer is responsible to create a plan that meets CFR 1926.502(k), CFR 1926.503 (a) and (c)
  • Use of qualified climbers in outdoor advertising without fall protection will be phased out
  • Employers must ensure workers meet CFR 1926.503 training requirements

Leading Edge Applications

ANSI released a new standard Z359.14 meant to increase worker safety when it comes to sharp or leading edge fall protection and the use of self-retracting devices…

Class A:

  • Shorter maximum arrest distance (24”)
  • Can be used in applications with reduced fall clearance
  • Arresting forces cannot exceed 1350 lbs.

Class B:

  • Maximum arrest distance (54”)
  • Arresting forces cannot exceed 900 lbs.

Additional specifications are mandatory when it comes to self-retracting lines (SRL), so make sure you review Z359.14

  1. Performance
  2. Design
  3. Qualification Testing
  4. Manufacturer Markings
  5. Built-in Fall Indicator
  6. Inspections
  7. Maintenance & Storage
  8. Removal from Service

Do You Have A Rescue Plan in Place?

It may be impossible to plan ahead for every scenario, but the advancements in equipment and technological has made increasing a victim’s chance of survival possible.

Here’s what you need to evaluate…

  1. What are the hazards that could lead to a fall?
  2. Are there factors that could impact a workers ability to rescue themselves?
  3. Will the worker need assistance to get to a safe level?
  4. Is there a possibility of worker becoming unconscious?
  5. What equipment is needed to reduce injury in the event of a fall?

Training Can Save A Life

Assuming your workers understand the fall hazards and how/when to use equipment can be deadly. As an employer, there a few things that you must do.

  • Provide training from a competent person to all affected workers to identify hazards and know what to do to minimize risk
  • Document training and keep records
  • Develop clear and written fall protection programs
  • Retrain worker when there is any change in workplace, systems, or skill level

Don’t take chances with safety. Education and training will ensure a worker makes it home.

Topics: Fall Protection, Fall Protection Training