OSHA annually has a Stand Down for Falls in Construction. If your company is not in construction, but in general industry, this is a good time to review fall protection issues at your own facility. Falls can occur anytime you have workers at heights regardless of the type of work they are doing. Here are some tips to remember for general industry:
- In general industry, the rule for fall protection is that it’s needed when you’re at or above 4 ft. or when someone is working over hazardous machines or equipment.
- When using scissor at 4 ft. or above, fall protection is needed. Even at lower heights, guardrails may be used, but still leave the potential for falling. It’s a best practice to wear fall protection when using these machines and these machines have secure anchor points already ready to go for use.
- Use fall protection any time you’re using an aerial lift.
- Know your calculations on distance to know how to choose the right length of lanyard to protect your workers in a fall. You need to account for the fall, deceleration distance, harness elongation, swing hazards, the length of the D-ring to the bottom of the feet and a safety factor distance above the ground.
- Have a rescue plan to prevent suspension trauma and teach workers what they need to do to keep their blood circulating while suspended until help arrives. It only takes 5 minutes for them to become lightheaded, nauseous or unconscious.
- Only use anchorage points that have been designed to be so and have been certified to meet or exceed OSHA regulations. Engineered anchor point systems typically exceed regulations and are a safe option. Do NOT use bad anchor points such as vents, stand pipes, railings, guardrails, air vents/ductwork, fixed ladders, skylights, light fixtures, electrical conduits, or air conditioning units.
- Use of ladders create fall injuries. Know how to properly use a ladder, keep 3 points of contact at all times, check ladders for damage, and set them on a solid, stable base.
- When was the last time you inspected your fall equipment? Make sure you are visually inspecting it before use and then conducting additional documented annual inspections. If ANYTHING looks odd, remove it from use.
- Have your workers been trained in fall hazards? They must be trained prior to being exposed to that hazard, must understand the training and be retrained any time they exhibit inadequacies in knowledge or use of fall protection systems or equipment.
Below are some fall protection-related resources you can draw upon:
OSHA’s Fall Protection Page: https://www.osha.gov/fall-protection
Example Training Resources for Falls in General Industry
This Week’s OSHA’s National Safety Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction