Simple Steps You Can Take to Prevent Workplace Falls – Guest Post
The U.S. Department of Labor has estimated that, on average, between 150 and 200 workers die annually due to falls and over 10,000 are injured by falls in the workplace. But what can you as an individual do to prevent a workplace fall? Here we review a few simple principles that you can put into practice to prevent workplace falls.
IDENTIFY THE HAZARDS
Knowing the areas where fall hazards exist is your first line of defense against an accident. Some will be obvious, such as places where workers must perform routine tasks at heights more than 4 feet above the next lower level. Others, such as the gap between a loading bay and a truck, may be harder to identify. Check for places where your daily work routine puts you in contact with uneven or curved surfaces, slick surfaces, moving surfaces, or obstacles in the footway. Platforms, overhangs, ramps, runways, catwalks, and places where work is done near a level edge are all potential fall hazards.
Another way to avoid a potential fall is to ensure that you have the proper gear. Something as simple as checking footwear can prevent a hazard. Inappropriate footwear or worn, damaged, or corroded tread on a work boot can take-away a foothold when you need it most. If an active fall protection system is in place, it probably will involve use of a full-body safety harness and lanyard. In an active fall protection system your equipment can be the link to a saved life. It is the responsibility of the individual using the system to inspect the equipment before each use. Be sure to inspect all portions of your harness, including webbing, D-rings, straps, grommets, and buckles. Look for signs of wear, overuse, damage, corrosion, or fatigue. Likewise, inspect your lanyard for any nicks, scratches, snags, stretching, or signs of wear or fatigue. Be sure that each component works smoothly and properly.
FOLLOW SAFETY PROCEDURES
OSHA has revised its construction industry safety standards and developed systems and procedures designed to prevent employees from falling off, onto, or through working levels and to protect employees from being struck by falling objects. Your workplace will likely have warnings and alerts posted in areas where a hazard exists. Take note of them. Be sure that you receive proper training before undertaking work where a fall hazard may be present. Know the passive (e.g., ladder, guardrail, catwalk) and active (e.g., platform, harness, lanyard) elements of any fall protection system in your workplace. If your workplace has a fall rescue plan in place, know your role in it and practice procedures regularly. If any element of a rule or procedure is unclear, ask questions. Safety procedures are there to protect you. But they can do so only when they are followed.
For more detailed information on OSHA fall prevention regulations, visit the Department of Labor at http://www.osha.gov/doc/outreachtraining/htmlfiles/subpartm.html
About the Author
RigidLifelines provides fall protection and fall safety products to a variety of industries to ensure the safest working conditions. From safety harnesses, to self-retracting lanyards, you can find a variety of safety and fall preventing products from RigidLifelines.