The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma. Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction. However, regardless of the fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery.
There are a number of ways to protect workers from falls including conventional systems such as guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall protection systems (fall arrest systems, positioning systems and travel restraint systems) as well as through the use of safe work practices and training. The use of warning lines, designated areas, control zones and similar systems are permitted by OSHA in some situations and can provide protection by limiting the number of workers exposed and instituting safe work methods and procedures. These alternative systems may be more appropriate than conventional fall protection systems when performing certain activities. Whether conducting a hazard assessment or developing a comprehensive fall protection plan, thinking about fall hazards before the work begins will help to manage fall hazards and focus attention on prevention efforts. If personal fall protection systems are used, particular attention should be given to identifying attachment points and to ensuring that employees know how to properly don and inspect the equipment. Follow these simple fall protection tips to ensure a safe workplace.
1.Identify all potential tripping and fall hazards before work starts.
2.Look for fall hazards such as unprotected floor openings/edges, shafts, skylights, stairwells, and roof openings/edges.
3.Inspect fall protection equipment for defects before use.
4.Select, wear, and use fall protection equipment appropriate for the task.
5.Secure and stabilize all ladders before climbing them.
6.Never stand on the top rung/step of a ladder.
7.Use handrails when you go up or down stairs.
8.Practice good housekeeping. Keep cords, welding leads and air hoses out of walkways or adjacent work areas.