One of the most hazardous work-related events is a fall accident. It causes irreversible but avoidable injuries to the victims. Some fundamental precautions can prevent such calamities. However, most construction sites lack the necessary equipment and technology to protect employees from such fatal encounters.
Hence, when employees are working at altitudes, the employer must make sure that the necessary precautions are taken to prevent falls. This could involve erecting guardrails and scaffolding, using a lift, or using one’s own fall protective gear.
If you are working on a construction project that includes high-altitude tasks, make sure to read this article thoroughly as we have outlined the ultimate guide to personal fall protection systems.
Fall Protection System Being Implemented In Various Industries
In this section, let’s quickly look at the most common personal fall protection systems being used in each industry.
Utility And Energy Industry
Since this industry is full of risks, particularly for individuals who work with power infrastructure, fall protection systems are essential equipment.
To prevent falls, professional workers frequently use active systems that include harnesses and anchors. However, when using the anchors and harnesses, it must be ensured that anchor requirements and testing defined by OSHA are maintained.
To lessen conduction risks or survive arc flash occurrences, electrical sector personnel may use devices that use insulated elements rather than metal.
Concrete Related Work Protection
While the majority of concrete tasks are performed on the surface, employees may also be required to perform tasks on high buildings.
Teams need dependable fall protection equipment for operations when concrete workers must work at a height, as well as in all other circumstances.
It’s crucial that businesses come up with methods to ensure the safety of their personnel while they work on these sites because they cannot offer simple anchors.
You can also look into other information related to concrete equipment being used in construction to have more ideas on how concrete-related work protection can be implemented.
Cranes are used in many different institutions and businesses to lift huge items.
Employees must scale these massive pieces of machinery, some of which are several hundred feet above, in order to perform maintenance. A suitable fall prevention and emergency plan for such employees is necessary to guarantee both operational efficiencies and safe working conditions.
The Most Frequent Causes of Workplace Falls
When employees are working at high altitudes, even minor errors can have serious consequences. For instance, a splash or even a piece of granular material could cause somebody to lose their balance.
Moreover, there could be some problems with the equipment used by the team or a lack of training given to the employees on what things they should keep in mind when they are working at such higher heights.
But not every time is it the fault of the worker or the employer. A fall could occur when working on a structure that was improperly built or serviced.
Sometimes it’s not even the equipment but the lack of focus or attention that can lead your employees to experience a fall just because they had a terrible day or acted irresponsibly. But sometimes it could be due to extraneous circumstances beyond anyone’s control as well.
Listed below are some of the core reasons why workplace fall occurs frequently:
- Weather conditions such as wind, rain, snow, and ice
- Possible Equipment failures
- Trips and falls brought on by dangerous floor conditions, improper footing, inadequate lighting, etc.
- Buildings, scaffolding, and ladders that are collapsing
- Making poor choices, such as breaking safety rules or acting without the necessary information
What Is The Fall Of Hierarchy
The fall protection hierarchy is a set of five steps that reduce the danger of falling accidents at the workplace and lessens the intensity of any accidents that do happen.
This hierarchy can help you decide how to best safeguard your employees in any particular circumstance.
Ask yourself as someone who is in charge of the construction project, in order to improve safety, are there any changes you could make to your processes or surroundings?
This can entail filling up construction cracks or clearing trash from the job site. It could also mean performing work in a different way, such as employing a tool to complete chores that you would typically complete by hand.
Passive Fall Prevention
If the risk cannot be eliminated, you might be able to build machinery that will prevent access to it.
For such steps, passive systems are frequently employed. Guardrails can be used to keep employees away from a building’s edge, and safety nets can be used to stop fatal falls.
Fall Restraint Systems
Equipment that ties employees to the structure or building they are on top of is used in this proactive fall prevention measure.
An employee cannot fall drastically to a very low altitude if they are secured to the structure with a full-body harness as well as hooks, for instance. This reduces the risks and harm that could occur from any possible falls or slips.
Fall Arrest Methods
Fall arrest devices are intended to safeguard employees when they have already collapsed, not to avoid accidents.
Such systems incorporate energy-absorbing life preservers that minimize collision with the land and facilitate effective rescue operations in addition to full-body belts and hooks.
When utilized properly, they also act as security against additional injuries while workers wait for assistance.
When everything else fails, you can depend on fall protection instruction or a fall protection supervisor’s guidance to prevent falls. This is the riskiest and least advised step because it is entirely based on individual actions.
Important Types Of Fall Protection Equipment
Now that you know about the common fall accidents and the commonly used protective equipment for each industry, let’s deep dive into some of the individual equipment that you can consider for your business.
Fall arrest is a type of protective gear that includes effectively preventing a fall. Fall guarding (protection blocking a person’s access to a fall in a hazardous area) and fall restriction are additional types of fall protection.
When an employee is exposed to a fall risk while operating in elevated positions, fall arrest systems are necessary. Everyone operating at an altitude of six feet or higher has to utilize these. The walking distance is represented by working height.
General (nets), as well as personal fall arrests, are the two main categories (lifelines). Only after a fall happens does the fall arrest mechanism go into operation.
Only full-body harnesses featuring shock-absorbing lanyards or retractable lifelines are approved as personal fall prevention systems by OSHA.
While shock-absorbing lanyards reduce the overall fall arresting forces, full-body harnesses help distribute pressures throughout the employees’ bodies.
An anchorage, according to OSHA, is a safe location where lanyards and deceleration systems can be fastened.
Any type of construction that can sustain the pressure of a fall from such a structure, such as beams, columns, or floors, can serve as this attachment point.
It is crucial to select the appropriate construction because the anchorage point controls the remainder of a fall arrest system.
Your devices will also come with an anchorage connector which joins the remainder of a network to the anchoring framework in addition to the anchorage point.
You may connect an object using a D-bolt, a beam, a hook, or any other equally secure mechanism, depending on the kind of anchoring point.
The user wears this gear of the fall arrest equipment. Body straps were once considered suitable body support components.
However, that material is no longer advised because it does not provide appropriate fall protection and frequently results in additional injuries.
Instead, you need to pair your fall arrest gear with the full-body harness. The straps on such harnesses wrap across the arms and shoulder, go around the waist, across the legs, as well as around the pelvis.
By distributing the force of a fall over the body in this way, the intensity and risk of injury are reduced. Additionally, it uses strategically placed connectors to maintain your posture for both rescue and health.
The anchorage connector is connected to the full-body harness via this last piece of gear.
Many systems employ an energy-absorbing connection, which is designed to reduce the forces placed on the body when stopping a fall. To reduce the effects of a fall, they can also utilize self-retracting lanyards or fall limiters.
Rope grabs, self-retracting lanyards, energy-absorbing lanyards, fall limiters, as well as retrieval devices are typical methods of attachment.
In this article, we have covered more or less everything you need to know in terms of personal fall protection systems in this article. However, in addition to this information, you should also explore what else you can do to ensure worker safety, especially if you have a business where people work in hazardous or risky conditions.