Taking the Fall Why Fall Protection Matters

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Keeping workers safe and productive is the mandate of every business, whether in the oil and gas industry or construction, and for those tasked with complex responsibilities in unusual circumstances such as work at heights, the need to understand safety regulations becomes even more important. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets out guidelines to help companies ensure the safety of their workers. Investing in the right kinds of fall prevention and protection is vital.

All workers operating at high levels above ground should go on fall protection courses. Fall protection courses are one of the three components ? together with planning and providing needed equipment ? that OSHA says are necessary to minimize falls and prevent injuries. Such fall protection courses familiarize workers with the relevant regulations and standards related to fall protection, the ways in which to assess fall protection systems, hazard control and elimination, surveys and procedures, inspection of equipment, and a number of other aspects related to fall prevention and protection.

Understanding these safety guidelines and the equipment on hand can go a long way to minimizing the risk of a fall and ensuring that if one does happen everyone knows what to do and there are the right safeguards in place to protect workers. All workers and safety personnel should complete a fall protection course.

The risk of severe injury increases as the height at which workers have to operate increases; those needing to work at levels above six feet need to have fall protection equipment available to them as well as the right kinds of scaffolds, safety gear and ladders. Fall protection such as safety nets must be provided for those general industry employees working above four feet; the requirement in shipyards is five feet, eight feet in longshoring operations and six feet in construction.

There are two main types of fall arrest systems, namely personal fall arrests such as lifelines, and general fall arrest systems such as safety nets which can be used to lessen fall risk and injury in fall distances above 25 feet where there is no scaffold or temporary floor. Testing of fall arrest systems should be done and the test weight should be a minimum of 300 pounds, within a scale of 5 pounds either way. It is vital that the rigging is correctly applied. By ensuring that all workers comply with the requirement of attending fall protection courses, correct use of safety equipment can be improved.

Worker safety is a vital component of any business environment and should be a central focus for companies that value not only their workers’ lives but also the productivity of the company. Ensure that such systems are inspected at least once a year.

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