By: Alec Schaufenbuel
This week is OSHA’s National Safety Stand Down to Prevent Falls in the Construction Industry. Falls are the number one cause of fatalities in construction and thirty-nine percent of all deaths on jobsites are caused by falls. Falls also happen to be the number one most cited issue by OSHA on jobsites nationwide. Taking steps to ensure your safety and the safety of those you’re working with, can help reduce the number of falls on construction projects.
First, take step back and evaluate the plan that should be in place when working from heights greater than six-feet from the next level. Do not be afraid to stop work if a plan has not been made, if you are unsure of the plan, or if someone is violating the plan. You may just save a life.
There are two types of fall protection you should consider when planning the work:
1. Fall Restraint – keeps you from being exposed to a fall
Examples include: guard rail (scaffolding, lifts, and perimeter), parapet wall, or personal fall restraint systems
If you use a guard rail system, ensure the top rail is between thirty-nine and forty-five inches tall and able to with stand 200 pounds of force. A fall restraint system should have a 5000 pound anchor point, and completely restrict you from being exposed to a fall.
2. Fall Arrest – stops you if you’re falling
Example: personal fall arrest system
These systems also need a 5000 pound anchor point, need to be tied above the fall hazard, and should not allow a worker to fall more than six feet. The system needs to be inspected by the intended user, and must include a full body harness as well as a shock absorbing lanyard.
There are many more rules surrounding fall protection in the construction industry. These are just some of the highlights. We encourage others to participate in a more informative tool box talk with employees on each jobsite and participate in any fall protection training offered by your company. Falls can generally be prevented with awareness and the proper plan and equipment. Never hesitate to ask questions about how to be safer on the jobsite.