Guidelines to Minimize Fall Risk

You see it all the time. Workers on a roof or a boom lift without a harness or other type of fall protection. Fall protection risk in the construction industry is an all too common issue. One of the biggest concerns regarding fall protection is the adequacy of training provided to the employee. Believe it or not, many employers neglect to train their employees properly to ensure their safety.

OSHA Fall Protection Standards

The OSHA construction standard states that, “each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems”. Though OSHA standards help guide employers on how to minimize risk, employers should try and exceed these standards. Other factors that affect a company’s fall protection risk are:

  • Safety Culture-If a company does not have a sound safety culture typically less awareness will follow and higher risk will be expected
  • Previous/current management style and commitment-Management sets the tone for accountability and what is acceptable
  • Capacity of company safety person-Without a competent safety person, the blind leading the blind?
  • Type of work being performed-Different work will yield different risks levels

Employers should strive to provide effective training that employees clearly comprehend and that is specific to the work environment. This entails training in English and any other languages to meet the employee demand–utilizing audio visual aids to supplement employee retention and demonstration. OSHA sets forth specific requirements for fall protection training that should be followed to ensure compliance. A successful training program will address all regulatory, cultural, and emerging facets.

Employees should be aware of their right to perform their job in a safe workplace environment and know the steps to take if they ever feel that there is a safety or health concern.

National Safety Stand Down

Last week, OSHA had their annual National Safety Stand Down. The purpose of the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down is to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction.

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation are the leading cause of death for construction workers, with a majority of deaths being preventable. In 2014, fall prevention safety standards were among the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards and falls accounted for 39.9% of all construction industry fatalities in 2014.

Catto & Catto Safety Academy

Interested in learning more about fall protection? Join us for our June Safety Academy Workshop. Here you will learn more about how you can create a safety culture in your workplace to protect yourself and your employees.

About the Author

Jesse Vera, CSP, ARM-E, Safety Consultant, As a member of the team at Catto & Catto, Jesse’s broad experience in matters of safety, environmental hazards and risk management as they impact business’ day-to-day operations are of immense value to both owners and their employees. His most recent practice has been in the oil and gas, transportation, manufacturing, construction and logistics industries – rounding out the comprehensive knowledge base of our in-house risk management team. Jesse’s current role is to help our clients manage their risks, improve their loss experience, lower their insurance cost and optimize their risk management programs. His responsibilities include risk engineering, risk program optimization and safety consultation.

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