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Fall Protection

Why do we need protection from falling?

We need protection because even those of us with experience working at heights can lose our balance or grip; we can slip, trip, or misstep at any time. We may think that our reflexes will protect us, but we're falling before we know it, and we don't have to fall far to be seriously injured. We've been falling since Day One. Until we get better at landing, we'll need protection from falling.

Make fall protection part of your workplace safety and health program

A workplace safety and health program is what you and your co-workers do to achieve and maintain a safe, healthful workplace. There are as many types of safety and health programs as there are workplaces, but not all programs are successful. What makes a successful safety and health program? There are seven elements:

Commitment. All employees - including company executive officers, managers, and supervisors - are committed to making the program succeed.

Accountability. All employees - including company executive officers, managers, and supervisors - are held accountable for following safe work practices.

Involvement. All employees, including managers and supervisors, participate in making the program succeed.

Hazard identification. All employees are trained to identify hazards, and there are procedures for conducting hazard inspections and reporting hazards.

Accident investigation. Managers and supervisors promptly investigate all accidents and near misses and then determine how to eliminate their causes.

Training. All employees receive training in identifying workplace hazards and learning safe work practices.

Evaluation. Managers and supervisors, with help from other employees, evaluate the program's strengths and weaknesses at least once a year.

What is a fall hazard?

A fall hazard is anything in the workplace that could cause an unintended loss of balance or bodily support and result in a fall. Fall hazards cause accidents such as the following:

A worker walking near an unprotected leading edge trips over a protruding board.

A worker slips while climbing an icy stairway.

A makeshift scaffold collapses under the weight of four workers and their equipment.

A worker carrying a sheet of plywood on a flat roof steps into a skylight opening.

Fall hazards are foreseeable. You can identify them and eliminate or control them before they cause injuries.

What is supported access?

Portable ladders, supported scaffolds, and aerial lifts let you get to a work area and support you while you work. They make getting to a work area easy, but they can cause falls when they're not used properly.

Portable ladders

Portable ladders are versatile, economical, and easy to use. However, workers sometimes use them without thinking about using them safely. Each year, most workers are injured when they fall from ladders. Most of the falls are less than 10 feet.

Types of portable ladders. We use ladders to do all sorts of tasks, so it's not surprising that many types of ladders are available. Let's look at the most common types.

What is a fall-protection system?

If workers will be exposed to fall hazards that you can't eliminate, you'll need to prevent falls from occurring or ensure that if workers do fall, they aren't injured. A fall-protection system is designed to prevent or arrest falls.

Types of fall-protection systems

There are seven general fall-protection systems:

Personal fall-arrest system (PFAS). Arrests a fall

Personal fall-restraint system. Prevents a fall

Positioning-device system. Positions a worker and limits a fall to 2 feet

Guardrail system. Prevents a fall

Safety-net system. Arrests a fall

Warning-line system for roofing work. Warns a worker of a fall hazard

Personal fall-restraint systems

Unlike the personal fall-arrest system, which is designed to stop a fall, a personal fall-restraint system prevents a worker from reaching an unprotected edge and thus prevents a fall from occurring. The system consists of an anchorage, connectors, and a body harness or a body belt. The attachment point to the body belt or full body harness can be at the back, front, or side D-rings.

The anchorage for a fall-restraint system must support at least 3,000 pounds or be designed and installed with a safety factor of at least two. If you're not sure how much an anchorage will support, have a qualified person evaluate it.

Positioning-device systems

Positioning-device systems make it easier to work with both hands free on a vertical surface such as a wall or concrete form. Positioning-device systems are also called Class II work-positioning systems and work-positioning systems.

The components of a positioning-device system - anchorage, connectors, and body support - are similar to those of a personal fall-arrest system. However, the systems serve different purposes. A positioning-device system provides support and must stop a free fall within 2 feet; a personal-fall-arrest system provides no support and must limit free-fall distance to 6 feet.

Anchorage. Positioning-device systems must be secured to an anchorage that can support at least twice the potential impact of a worker's fall or 3,000 pounds, whichever is greater.

Connectors. Connectors must have a minimum strength of 5,000 pounds. Snap hooks and D-rings must be proof-tested to a minimum load of 3,600 pounds without deforming or breaking.

Body support. A body belt is acceptable as part of a positioning-device system. However, it must limit the arresting force on a worker to 900 pounds and it can only be used for body support. A full-body harness is also acceptable and must limit the arrest force to 1,800 pounds. Belts or harnesses must have side D-rings or a single front D-ring for positioning.

Why train workers about fall protection?

Workers need to know about workplace hazards to which they may be exposed, how to recognize the hazards, and how to minimize their exposure. The best way for them to learn is through training. Training ensures that they know about the hazards and can demonstrate how to protect themselves from falling.

Caring for equipment

When you use ladders, scaffolds, aerial lifts, and fall-protection systems you expect to get your job done safely. But do you pay attention to the condition of the equipment? Inspect the equipment frequently, keep it clean, store it properly, and it won't let you down.

Inspecting fall-arrest, fall-restraint, and positioning-device systems


It is very important that you inspect the components of personal fall-arrest, restraint, or positioning-device systems for damage or excessive wear before and after each use. Replace any component that looks damaged. Don't use a personal fall-arrest system that has arrested a fall unless a competent person has determined that the system is safe to use.

Prompt rescue required

The best strategy for protecting workers from falls is to eliminate the hazards that cause them. When you can't eliminate the hazards, you must protect workers with an appropriate fall-protection system or method. If a worker is suspended in a personal fall-arrest system, you must provide for a prompt rescue.

"Prompt" means without delay. A worker suspended in a harness after a fall can lose consciousness if the harness puts too much pressure on arteries. A worker suspended in a body harness must be rescued in time to prevent serious injury. If a fall-related emergency could happen at your work site, you should have a plan for responding to it promptly. Workers who use personal fall-arrest systems must know how to promptly rescue themselves after a fall or they must be promptly rescued.

Developing an emergency-response plan

The following guidelines will help you develop a plan for responding promptly to falls and other emergencies.

Effective plans don't need to be elaborate. Your plan should show that you've thought about how to eliminate and control hazards and that workers know how to respond promptly if something goes wrong.

Get others involved in planning. When other workers participate, they'll contribute valuable information, take the plan seriously, and be more likely to respond effectively during an emergency. Key objectives for an effective emergency-response plan include:

Identify the emergencies that could affect your site.

Establish a chain of command.

Establish procedures for responding to the emergencies.

Identify critical resources and rescue equipment.

Train on-site responders.

Identify emergencies that could affect your workplace. Identify any event that could threaten worker safety or health. Two examples:

A worker suspended in a full-body harness after a fall.

A worker on a scaffold who contacts an overhead power line.

Identify critical resources and rescue equipment. Prompt rescue won't happen without trained responders, appropriate medical supplies, and the right equipment for the emergency.

First-aid supplies. Every work site needs medical supplies for common injuries. Does your site have a first-aid kit for injuries that are likely to occur? Store the supplies in clearly marked, protective containers and make them available to all shifts.

Rescue equipment. Identify on-site equipment that responders can use to rescue a suspended worker. Extension ladders and mobile lifts are useful and available at most sites. Determine where and how each type of equipment would be most effective during a rescue. Make sure the equipment will permit rescuers to reach a fall victim, that it's available when rescuers need it, and that rescuers know how to use it.

Developing an emergency-response plan

Train on-site responders. An effective emergency-response plan ensures that on-site responders know emergency procedures, know how to use available rescue equipment, and - if necessary - know how to contact off-site responders. Workers who use personal fall-arrest systems and who work alone must know how to rescue themselves. Those who work at a remote site may need a higher level of emergency training than those who work near a trauma center or a fire department.

Establish a chain of command. All workers must know their roles and responsibilities during an emergency. A chain of command links one person with overall responsibility for managing an emergency to those responsible for carrying out specific emergency-response tasks. Make sure that back-up personnel can take over when primary responders aren't available.

Establish procedures for responding to emergencies. Procedures are instructions for accomplishing specific tasks. Emergency procedures are important because they tell workers exactly what to do to ensure their safety during an emergency. Your emergency-response plan should include the following procedures - preferably in writing - that describe what people must know and do to ensure that a fallen worker receives prompt attention:

Know how to -

How to report an emergency.

How to rescue a suspended worker.

How to provide first aid.

After an emergency, review the procedures; determine if they should be changed to prevent similar events and revise them accordingly.

In Conclusion
Before on-site work begins


Identify emergencies that could affect your work site.

Establish a chain of command.

Document procedures for responding to emergencies and make sure they're available at the site.

Post emergency-responder phone numbers and addresses at the work site.

Identify critical resources and rescue equipment.

Train on-site responders.

Identify off-site responders and inform them about any conditions at the site that may hinder a rescue effort.

Identify emergency entry and exit routes.

Make sure responders have quick access to rescue and retrieval equipment, such as lifts and ladders.

During on-site work

Identify on-site equipment that can be used for rescue and retrieval, such as extension ladders and mobile lifts.

Maintain a current rescue-equipment inventory at the site. Equipment may change frequently as the job progresses.

Re-evaluate and update the emergency-response plan when on-site work tasks change.

When an emergency occurs

First responders should clear a path to the victim. Others should direct emergency personnel to the scene. You can use 911 for ambulance service; however, most 911 responders are not trained to rescue a worker suspended in a personal fall-arrest system. Make sure only trained responders attempt a technical rescue.

Prohibit all nonessential personnel from the rescue site.

Talk to the victim; determine the victim's condition, if possible.

If you can reach the victim, check for vital signs, administer CPR, attempt to stop bleeding, and make the victim comfortable.

After an emergency

Report fatalities and catastrophes to OSHA within eight hours.

Report injuries requiring overnight hospitalization and medical treatment (other than first aid) to OSHA within 24 hours.

Identify equipment that may have contributed to the emergency and put it out of service. Have a competent person examine equipment. If the equipment is damaged, repair or replace it. If the equipment caused the accident, determine how and why.

Document in detail the cause of the emergency.

Review emergency procedures. Determine how the procedures could be changed to prevent similar events; revise the procedures accordingly.

Nice photo every one is tied off

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