Don’t Fall for Assuming You Have Fall Protection Covered
By Reno Benson, Executive Vice President
It is a busy time for construction in Nashville and the surrounding areas. Projects are bigger in scope with tighter schedules due to increased demand. Risk management and safety practices are as important as ever.
It is necessary to regularly consider some of the greatest risks at construction sites to make sure you are doing everything we can.
Today we’ll look at one in particular: falling.
As you’d probably guess, OSHA cites injuries from falls as one of its top 10 work-site injuries. There are many culprits and causes but any construction job that is going to require workers up at least six feet in height has all that’s needed for a catastrophic injury.
Falls can result from unstable working surfaces, ladders that are not safely positioned and misuse of fall protection. Workers are also subject to falls or the dangers of falling objects if sides and edges, floor holes and wall openings are not protected.
Because of the nature of falling, if you have any safety measures at all on your site, you’ve probably already addressed falling at some level, but you should never rest easy.
Review the following points regularly while considering your construction site to ensure you are doing everything you can to maintain worker safety:
Unprotected Sides, Wall Openings and Floor Holes
Almost all sites have unprotected sides and edges, wall openings or floor holes at some point during construction. If these sides and openings are not protected, injuries from falls or falling objects may result. Use at least one of the following whenever you are exposed to a fall of six feet or more above a lower level:
- Guardrail systems
- Safety net systems
- Fall arrest systems
Additional Safety Precautions
- Cover or guard floor holes promptly after creating them.
- Construct floor hole covers so they will effectively support two times the weight of workers, equipment and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.
- Use fall prevention systems like guardrails rather than protection systems like safety nets or fall arrest devices.
You also increase your chances of falling if you are using portable ladders that are not safely positioned each time you use them. While you are on a ladder, it may move or slip from its supports. You may also lose your balance while getting on and off an unsteady ladder.
Take the following fall protection measures when using ladders:
- Position portable ladders so side rails extend at least three feet above the landing.
- Secure side rails at the top to a rigid support and use a grab device when a three-foot extension is not possible.
- Make sure that the weight on the ladder will not cause it to slip off its support.
- Inspect ladders for cracked, broken or defective parts prior to each use. If a ladder is broken, tag it as defective and remove it from service.
- Don’t apply more weight on a ladder than it is designed to support.
- Only use ladders that comply with OSHA standards.
Part of risk management is never assuming you have something covered. Take the time to review your safety practices, like fall protection, at your site regularly.