Falls are one of the most common causes of serious injuries and deaths in the workplace, according to OSHA. However, OSHA’s fall protection standard for the construction industry and the standard for fall protection training were both among the top ten most frequently cited standards for the fiscal year of 2018. Because of how dangerous falls can be, it is important to develop a fall prevention program, understand requirements and regulations for fall protection, and set up a facility that prevents employees from falling off raised walkways, elevated work stations, holes in the floor, or overhead platforms.
OSHA has developed and published a number of free and comprehensive resources about fall protection and prevention. An employer’s first step for fall prevention is to tour the facility and make note of every fall hazard spotted. This includes not only areas where employees are working from height, but also areas with uneven surfaces or other conditions that could cause a slip, trip, or fall. That may be holes in the floor, employees working over dangerous equipment, stairs, etc. Each of these areas should be evaluated to see if railings, floor covers, guardrails, and other kinds of machine guarding can keep workers from injury. Additional prevention efforts include keeping the floor clean and clear of clutter, maintaining safe walkways, storing cords and cables are out walking paths, installing handrails on stairways, ensuring spills are cleaned up quickly, just to name a few!
If the fall hazard cannot be eliminated entirely, employees must be provided the proper PPE which this case would be a personal fall arrest system. A personal fall arrest system is made up three main components: a secure point of attachment, body harnesses, and connectors (like shock absorbing lanyards or self-retracting lifelines). Workers must not only be provided with the appropriate equipment for the situation, it is critical they are trained on the safe and correct use of the equipment.