Stay Safe at Any Height - The ABC's of Fall Protection

Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. By knowing what equipment you need on your job site, providing that equipment to you workers, and training your workers how to use it, you can help prevent injuries and deaths.

The first step is to identify fall hazards and decide how to provide the best protection. OSHA mandates that any time a worker is at a height of 4 feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at 4 feet in general industry, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in construction, and 8 feet in longshoring operations.

There are many ways to protect yourself and your workers from falls, including using guardrail systems, safety net systems, and personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

The basics of every PFAS can be described as the ABC's of fall arrest:

  1. Anchorage: A secure point of attachment (structure) for the fall arrest system.
  2. Body Support: Full body harnesses provide a connection point on the worker for the personal fall arrest system.
  3. Connectors: Devices used to connect the worker's full body harness to the anchorage system (eg. shock absorbing lanyard, self-retracting lifeline, etc.). Self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) keep you safe at any height. Most SRLs stop falls within 24". You don't have to calculate your fall distance when using an SRL, as opposed to a lanyard.
  4. Descent/Rescue: Rescue and retrieval of a fallen worker is a required component of any fall protection program.

Individually, these components won't provide protection from a fall. However, when they're used properly and in conjunction with each other, they form a PFAS that becomes vitally important for safety on the job site.

Fall protection equipment must be inspected regularly and taken out of service if it shows signs of wear, or if it has been involved in a fall. Using equipment past its useful life is a potentially deadly mistake. A few signs to look for are fraying, cuts, and deformed metal hardware. Exposure to heat and chemicals can cause additional damage, as well.

Safe work practices and ongoing training are crucial when protecting your workers. It's also vital that you have a rescue plan in place in case a fall occurs. Taking the proper steps can mean the difference between life and death for you and your workers.

If you have any additional questions or need assistance with choosing the proper fall protection equipment, please contact our Technical Support Reps at 1-888-201-6074, or email techsupport@northernsafety.com.

Sources: EHS Today, OH&S, DBI SALA

Northern Safety Co., Inc.
PO Box 4250. Utica, NY 13504-4250
Phone: 1-800-571-4646
Fax: 1-800-635-1591

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