The Basics of Fall Protection
Fall protection is a crucial OSHA topic in many different industries. Understand the different types of fall protection systems and learn about your legal requirements.
Falls are one of the leading causes of job-related injuries and fatalities in America.
On any given day, every worker – even one experienced with working at heights – is at risk of having a fall and needs the best protection possible.
It’s important to periodically revisit basic fall protection information to keep a safe working environment and maintain a substantial fall protection management program.
Common Causes of Falls
Many different events can lead to a fall, but the most common are slips. Falls can occur as a result of:
Losing grip on support
Support moving or giving way
Stepping in a hole
Frequently, just before falling, the employee was either climbing up or down, lifting or carrying something, stepping backward, or using tools or equipment.
Being at heights significantly increases the impact of a fall and increases the possibility of a fatality.
When creating a fall protection system, keep these common causes in mind. Serious injuries can occur from any fall and it’s important to remember that workers of all experience levels are at risk of falling.
What does fall protection consist of?
When you hear ‘fall protection’, you likely think of equipment like rooftop guardrails, safety nets or harnesses. While these are critical pieces of fall protection, there is much more to think about if you’re going to have a comprehensive and compliant fall protection system.
Active vs. passive fall protection
Passive fall protection refers to anything that is designed to prevent a person from falling, while active fall protection refers to anything designed to stop, or arrest, a person already falling.
One of the main benefits of a passive fall prevention system is the fact that it does not require any specialized personnel to operate it and it does not require ongoing adjustments or alterations, while an active system usually requires specialized training and regular recalibration.
Fall protection equipment
Passive equipment systems include:
Active equipment systems include:
Height safety is everyone’s responsibility
Both employers and employees play an important role in the fall protection system in place at their companies. Certain actions and behaviors can be encouraged to eliminate fall hazards, prevent falls, and protect workers.
Employers are responsible for:
Providing working conditions free of known dangers
Identifying and eliminating fall hazards at the work site
Pre-planning for retrieval and ensuring that employees aren’t seriously injured if a fall does occur
Being diligent about educating and training employees on properly identifying fall hazards and following safe practices
Employees are responsible for:
Following safe work practices
Properly using equipment
Being proactive about receiving up-to-date training regularly
Learning to identify fall hazards and recognize unsafe practices
Being aware of the tasks that increase the risk of falling
Understanding how to control exposure to fall hazards
OSHA requirements are the accepted standard for workplace fall protection practices. Even if workers are only occasionally exposed to heights, it’s important to have a fall protection management program in place that complies with OSHA regulations. An effective fall protection system protects all of us.
OSHA requirements include:
Fall protection must be provided at elevations of 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry, and 8 feet in long shoring operations. Fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.
Floor holes or openings must be covered or guarded immediately, and covers must be constructed to effectively support two times the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be on the cover at any given time.
Employers must develop, implement, and commit to a fall protection management program, provide training about the program to employees, and evaluate the program regularly to determine if any changes or updates are necessary.
Maximum safety. Minimum fuss.
Get in touch to find out how we can help you meet your legal requirements and keep your people safe with our innovative height safety and access systems.