Workplace safety depends on the proper training and equipment as well as regular safety checks. Workers in industries like longshoring, construction, maritime and material handling often operate at dangerous heights above floor level. They operate or work in close proximity with heavy machinery and moving loads. Safety regulations concerning fall protection and rigging hardware standards can save lives and prevent injuries.
OSHA Workplace safety standards
The Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration or OSHA has safety guidelines that cover all aspects of workplace safety. In general, they prescribe three steps to workplace safety. These are: plan, prepare and provide.
It is the responsibility of the employer to evaluate workplace safety requirements and to have safety plans in place. It is likewise the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all workers are fully trained in workplace safety, whether it’s fall protection or crane training. The employer also has to provide all safety equipment needed by workers on the site.
Fall protection: personal and general
Fall protection can be personal, as in slings or ropes, or general, as in safety nets and scaffolding. Fall protection training is an important safety measure and employers should ensure that all workers are fully trained and compliant.
Workers who operate at heights of four feet or more above the floor are at risk in case of falls. They should have all necessary fall protection equipment, which should be tested regularly for safety.
Rigging hardware safety
For workplaces like material handling and longshoring, where heavy loads are being moved in proximity of workers, the safety of the rigging hardware is all-important. Rigging hardware like hooks, shackles, turnbuckles, and blocks must be absolutely reliable. It must also be tested regularly, to ensure that it can carry heavy loads without breaking.
Other cargo control equipment besides hardware rigging, like chains, binders, and winches should also be tested frequently to prevent any accidents. Rigging safety courses can help save lives and should be required for all workers who handle rigging hardware and cranes.
Workplace safety regulations have reduced the incidence of injuries and illness since they were first implemented, from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.4 per 100 in 2011. Workers in these important industries perform difficult and dangerous jobs everyday. Their safety is the most important concern for employers and for society as a whole.