In 2014, the number of fatal falls, slips, and trips was up approximately 10% over the same period from the previous year. With these types of injuries on the rise, there has never been a time that it is more important to wear the proper fall protection equipment when you are on the job. Unfortunately, employees are not always wearing the proper type of this gear, and those that are sometimes are not wearing it correctly. If you are a business owner that could possibly experience a work-related fatality related to falls, it is important that you figure out how to overcome some of the hurdles of getting your employees to wear the proper fall protection equipment.
The Lack Of Proper Protections
OSHA requires that you take precautions to protect all of your employees from falls. You must put fall protections in place anytime that you have employees working at elevations of four feet or higher in general industry, five feet in shipyards, and six feet or more in construction. In addition, you must put fall protection in place anytime your employees are working over any type of dangerous machinery or equipment, no matter the distance.
These protections may include:
- Hole covers
- Safety harnesses
- Safety nets and lines and more
Failure to put these protections in place could result in you incurring large fines, having your job site shut down, and placing your employees at a substantial risk of injury and death.
The Lack Of Education
Even if you provide your employees with the proper fall protection and purchase the best fall protection equipment money can buy, if you do not supply them with the proper education on how to use the equipment, as well as the importance of using the equipment, it may all be in vain. Make sure that you implement ongoing training that will not only train your employees upfront, but that will review their compliance with the training, as well as retrain them on a scheduled basis.
Ensure that your training plan includes identification of all of the fall hazards within your industry, as well as an evaluation of how to reduce or prevent their risk. Make sure that your employees know how to properly wear their equipment, along with knowing how to inspect it and maintain it, in order to ensure that it remains safe.
Not Providing The Proper Types Of Equipment
Although personal fall arrest systems are required for workers who may be exposed to vertical drops of six feet or more, they are not all created equal. Depending on the type of work you are performing, you may need various types of anchorages, body harnesses, connectors, or lifelines. Make sure that you are supplying the exact equipment that your workers need in order for them to be safe. Some is equipment designed for fall arrest, while other equipment is designed for positioning, suspension, and even retrieval. Understanding the differences in these types of equipment is the first step in developing a proactive fall protection program.
This type of equipment is often broken down into four basic classes:
- Class 1 - Equipment such as body belts that are designed for positioning only. These should not be used if there is a potential to fall.
- Class 2 - Equipment such as chest harnesses that are used for limited, or short distance falls. These may also be used for retrieval of a person out of a location such as a vat, tank, or bin.
- Class 3 - Equipment used to prevent free falls. This equipment normally includes some type of full body harness, as well as additional equipment.
- Class 4 - Equipment used in the suspension of workers. This type of equipment may include raising or lowering harnesses.
In addition to these, you may also need some or all of the following:
- Shock absorbers
- Rope grabs
- Safety nets
- Belts, buckles, rings and more
As an employer, you have to take the ultimate responsibility in reducing falls on your job site, but one of the best ways to do this is to ensure that your employees are using the proper fall protection equipment.