WORK SAFE: 5 Ways to Prevent Falls in Construction
May 6th—10th is National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, a voluntary event where employers take a break during the work day to address fall hazards and other safety issues on jobsites. Learn more about how you can get involved by checking out the resources OHSA has available.
Falls continue to be a leading cause of death in the construction industry, so it's important to remember that 100% of falls are preventable. Follow these five tips for preventing injury and death from falls.
1. Use Fall Protection If You're Working at 6 ft or More
No exceptions. Even if you’re just working at height for a short period of time, you must use fall protection. 6 ft might seem like it isn’t that high, but a fall from that height can still do a significant, even permanent, amount of damage. Make sure all workers have a healthy paranoia about the dangers of falls and understand how always using fall prevention can prevent them.
2. Make a Fall Prevention Plan Before Starting a Job
Working at height isn’t something that should be impulsive. In order to prevent falls, you need to inspect and understand the area where work will take place. It's your responsibility to make sure workers have the necessary equipment and knowledge to prevent falls and their consequences. You need a plan. And you need to share and discuss that plan with all of your workers. If you don't have a fall protection plan in place, this document from OSHA is a good resource.
3. Provide Workers with the Right Equipment for the Job
This can be as simple as providing properly fitting harnesses, lanyards, and other PPE to complete the job safely. It can also mean exchanging ladders or scaffolding for scissor lifts, a safer alternative that increases productivity and reduces the potential cost of jobsite injuries. If you choose to use mobile elevating work platforms, be sure to select the right size lift for the job. Using a 19 ft scissor lift in an unsuitable application can increase the risk of crush hazard by 90%.
4. Train Everyone to Use the Equipment Safely
Make sure all workers are trained to use the equipment, not just the people operating it. Why? Everyone needs to be a safety inspector. Every worker in the vicinity needs to be able to identify if the equipment is being used correctly and safely. Each worker must also be familiar with the equipment so that, in the event of a fall or accident, they can respond with the proper action; whether it's turning the machine off, a rescue, or calling a medic. The goal is that all workers respond with speed and confidence so that valuable time isn't wasted and no one is injured further.
5. Inspect Harness, Lanyard, & Anchor Points Before Each Use
The harness, lanyard, and anchorage points are designed to minimize injuries and prevent death if a fall occurs. Make sure the harness is the correct size for the operator and is in good working order. Double check that the lanyard will properly absorb the shock from a fall and that it's the appropraite length for the task at hand and equipment being used. If it isn’t adjusted correctly, serious injury could occur before the lanyard does the job it was intended to do. Lastly, make sure all anchorage points aren’t damaged and are in the correct position.
If you follow these guidelines and implement a culture of safety within your business, you stand a good chance of preventing injuries and possible death from falls on your jobsite.