If you haven’t heard of fall protection, you and your business need this article. Fall protection is required for many industries where job hazards could result in a fall. There are many options for fall protection depending on the type of industry you are in and what hazards your employees may face. Let’s take a look at why fall protection is important, when it is required, and what options are available.
Why is it so important?
While this may sound like a silly question, it’s not. Yes, the goal of fall protection is to prevent or provide safety in case of a fall. But falls are a much larger problem than many workers or employers realize. According to OSHA, falls are a leading cause of injuries and deaths for workers and without the proper protection, a lawsuit for businesses.
OSHA requires that employers provide a safe working place for their employees. This includes keeping workplace clean, dry, and clear of known dangers. Employers are required to provide essential protective equipment, including fall protection where needed, to their employees at no additional cost. And finally, employers are required to educate workers about potential hazards and provide training on how to protect themselves and use the provided PPE.
When is Fall Protection Required?
This really depends on the industry you are in. However, the general rule of thumb is 4’ for General Industry and 6’ for Construction. Within the construction field alone, there are many different requirements and exceptions to these requirements. So, make sure to err on the side of caution and keep yourself and your employees protected.
Some variations include:
- Roofers can use warning line and safety monitor instead of fall protection
- Steel erection does not require fall protection until 15’ (additional variations for connectors and deckers)
- If working from an aerial lift, workers must be tied in at all times (overrides steel erection limits)
- Fixed ladders over 24’ require fall protection
For more specifics on your industry, types of equipment, and variations of the regulations check out www.osha.gov
Simply providing the correct forms of fall protection is not enough. You are required to provide training to workers on how to properly identify and avoid potential hazards, and how to use each type of fall protection provided.
Types of Fall Protection
If you are in need of fall protection, there are several different ways to decide what works in what situation.
Fall prevention creates a physical barrier between people and a fall hazard. This is considered to be the best form of fall protection as it is the easiest to use and most effectively prevents falls. These systems typically require more upfront work and cost to install but once in place require no extra work.
Fall restraint systems use a tie off to prevent people from reaching a fall hazard. This is the best alternative when physical barriers are not possible. Again, these prevent people from reaching a fall hazard and are preferred over the last option, fall arrest.
These systems do not prevent people from reaching the fall hazard. Rather, fall arrest systems are used to stop a fall that has already occurred. These are not ideal but there are situations in which fall arrest systems will be necessary. Although this is not the preferred method of protection, with proper training and use they save lives.
There are many different systems available for any workplace setting available. You can choose from different types of:
- Anchor Systems
- Ladder Tie In’s
- Impact Barriers
- Portable Fences and Gates
- Warning Lines
- Self-Retracting Systems
With so many choices it can be hard to identify what systems will be most effective, allow your employees the freedom to work easily, and provide the most safety in case of an accident. Let us help you determine what options work best for you.
We know that you want to provide your employees with the safest workplace possible while still turning a profit. After all, if you spend all your money on PPE that isn’t needed, you won’t have any money to pay those employees. Let us help you determine what type of protection you are required to have and what systems are the most cost effective while protecting you and your workers.