Hundreds of workers die from falls every year. Working from heights while on a ladder, roof work – leading edge, skylights and other roof openings and holes, working from scaffolding, and bridge work are just a few of the fall hazards workers face.
Be a Better Supervisor
You can prevent such deaths by planning to get the job done safely, providing the right fall protection equipment, and training all workers when and how to use the equipment safely.
Here are some basic ideas for developing fall protection strategies.
“PLAN” ahead to get the job done safely — develop a plan and ensure the proper equipment, material and appropriately trained workers are available.
In roofing work for example it’s important to know the pitch of the roof and follow the appropriate standard based on the slope. You need to know this before work is started so you have time to plan the best way to protect workers.
Remember, when it comes to protecting against hazards follow the hierarchy of controls. Eliminate the hazard if possible, if not use these methods of protection.
“PROVIDE” the right equipment and set workers up for safety — provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear. Then provide for safe setup up of the equipment.
Here’s an example for setting up a personal fall arrest system.
The length of the lifeline or lanyard, the position of the anchor, and the distance to the lower level are all important. Select equipment that permits workers to operate efficiently while limiting the distance they could fall. This means you must properly calculate the fall clearance distance to ensure a worker will not contact the lower level in the event of a fall. You will also need to evaluate the potential for a pendulum or swing effect, which could swing a fallen worker into a nearby object. Swing-fall hazards can cause serious injuries, but they can be minimized by installing the anchorage point above the work area (i.e., up the roof slope from the worker) and setting up a maximum work range from the anchor point according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
“TRAIN” workers to use the equipment safely — train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use of ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment they will be using on the job.
Start by implementing safe work practices to reduce the possibility of falls. Then follow up training by supervising workers to ensure fall protection equipment is being used and maintained correctly. Finally, lead by example. Employers, project managers, and supervisors should follow the rules they are responsible for enforcing.