Fall Protection for Workers
Written by Greg on January 29, 2015
While there may be numerous hazards for workers in any given labor environment, one area that is often overlooked is the potential for falls and falling objects to create harm. According to a recent OSHA (Occupational Safety Health Administration) study “falls and falling objects can result from unstable working surfaces, ladders, that are not safely positioned, and misuse of fall protection.”
Additionally, workers can also be subjected to falls or falling objects when floor holes, sides and edges, and wall openings are not properly protected.
In addition, OSHA also stated that any worker, who works at a height of six feet or more in the construction industry, or four feet or more in any general industry, must be protected. Thus, for employees and employers alike, it is essential to understand how to offer adequately offer fall protection to employees.
When employees work on a walking or working surface that has an unprotected side OSHA standards dictates that management must:
- Roll out a fall protection program both through development, implementation, and commitment.
- Provide specific training on the aforementioned fall protection program.
- Evaluation of the program’s overall effectiveness in order to gauge whether or not any specific changes will be made.
In addition, employers must continually assess the workplace in order to ensure that the structures have enough structural integrity to support workers. This measure includes the proper construction and installation of all support structures, the supervision of employees, implementation of fall protection systems, and the assurance that workers are all properly trained.
When there is an unprotected side, wall or floor opening it is encouraged that employers use one of the following in order to offer additional protection:
- Safety Nets
- Fall Arrest Systems
- Covers or guards for floor holes when they are not being used
- All floor holes should also be able to support two times the weight of equipment, employees, and any other materials that will be placed.
As one can imagine, it is imperative that supervision is also maintained, both to ensure that these regulations are being followed and to locate any discrepancy that may arise. In addition, the research also points out that, when dealing with ladders in the working environment, OSHA also suggests that:
- Portable ladders should be extended to the side rails at least 3 feet above the landing.
- Side rails should be secured at the top to a rigid support and use a grab device when 3 foot extensions are not possible.
- The weight of the latter should be secured and inspected for any potential cracks, breaks, or other defects.
- The ladder should not hold more weight than has been allotted by manufacturer specification.
- Only ladders that comply with OSHA specifications should be used. These ladders have been specifically made for durability and the assurance that accidents will be minimized upon use.
Following all of these steps ensures that employers comply with OSHA standards and helps to prevent very serious accidents from occurring from inside the work environment.
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