The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has very specific rules and regulations to safeguard workers from falling at work. These protections have gone a long way in reducing the number of people who have been injured at work. In 1972, there were 10.9 incidents per 100 workers and that number had been brought down to 3.4 incidents per 100 workers in 2011. Fall protection equipment is a big part of that.
OSHA’s “Plan, Provide and Train” Policy
OSHA takes this all very seriously. In their materials, they list a plan for fall prevention as “Plan, Provide and Train.”
There are a lot of details that go into the planning of any construction project. They say that “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.” That saying has never been more true than when dealing with workforce safety. When you are drawing up plans to get a job done, planning to keep everyone on the job site safe and secure needs to be part of the planning process.
First of all, this means that you need to plan to have the right equipment on the site. There are a lot of fall protection systems and other fall protection equipment. You need to make sure you place in your budget your plans for fall protection. If your project includes any scaffolds, ladders, roofs, the need for rigging equipment or other items that involve workers being raised up, the whole idea of fall protection needs to be factored in. Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) should be used wherever falls may be possible.
Fall protection and other safety issues need to be part of the tasks that need to be done. You need to build in time to allow your workers to use their equipment safely. Make sure checking the safety equipment is factored into your thinking and process every week.
Provide your people with the right tools for the job.
Often when companies are starting a large scale project, they think about the equipment and the tools that will be needed to do the job but that may not include the safety equipment. Having the right PFAS is as crucial to a roofing job as having the materials such as shingles to add to the roof. It is required for employers to provide their workers with all of the tools and equipment they will need to complete the job safely.
If a worker is going to be six feet or more above the ground, they need the right kinds of fall protection equipment and the training for that. This means they need the right scaffolds, ladders and safety equipment.
Not every ladder is right for every job. It may seem like one ladder can be used for everything but that is is a mistake and that kind of thinking can be dangerous. Workers who are using a PFAS, they need to be provided with the right harness for the job at hand. You need to inspect the PFAS equipment and it needs to fit correctly and be well maintained. On a regular basis, it needs to be checked.
Provide training for everyone on the site.
Having all of the best safety and fall protection equipment in the world will be useless if people do not know the appropriate way to use it. There are fall protection certifications available. It is possible to prevent workers from suffering falls at work when they are properly trained on the safety and fall protection equipment they will be using on the job site.
It is important for workers to be trained to properly recognize hazards on the job site. It is impossible for people to avoid hazards if they do not know how to spot them when they see them.
Companies who may need some help with this in terms of training or materials that pertain to fall protection, it is possible to get that from OSHA. There are also companies around the country that offer fall protection equipment and training classes. Employers should require their workers take fall protection courses and should pay for them.
Employee safety is an important part of any job plan. It is essential that staff at all levels need to take this seriously and see the role they all play in keeping everyone safe while at work.