Subpart M, "Fall Protection" sets the criteria for fall protection in the construction industry.
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It first states that there are only two times when some form of fall protection is not needed; one prior to the work commencing and two after the work has been completed. To completely comprehend the need for fall protection, it is necessary to understand the limits of the law in Subpart M. This includes what is required of the contractor and what the standard does not address. You must have an understanding of all fall protection requirements, including those in other standards in CFR 1926 that also regulate what the worker may and may not do or be exposed to.
In Subpart C - Access and Egress is addressed. You as the safety manager must recognize fall protection begins at the walking working surface. The employee must have a clear obstacle free access egress. A lack of lay down area for material would not be justification for a worker who receives a broken leg from walking over rebar. In constructing Raven Stadium the three lost time injuries, which I dealt with, were associated with access through areas of mud. These areas of mud were greater than 12'' deep and several feet wide. The individuals hurt attempting to move through the mud had injuries resulting in pulled tendons, twisted ankles, and strained knees. In concrete construction the use of form oil on formwork creates slippery surfaces. The use of insulating blankets after the concrete is placed creates slippery work area conditions. When weather conditions change and it rains, snows, or ice accumulates on the plastic insulating blankets a prime condition for twisted ankles, broken legs and strained backs is created. Although the foot level fall does not always turn the red panic light on in ones mind, I guarantee a significant amount of injuries could be avoided by addressing your attention to the problem at hand.
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With the installation of elevators and material hoists there is exposure to a number of employees. There is exposure not only to the worker in the elevator shaft, but to individuals along exterior edges of the structure with material or personnel hoist installation, and also to those people working adjacent to these areas. Removable guardrail is the protection of choice, because this provides protection to those working in and around the shaft, but also allows subsequent trades who will need to access the shaft area easy access. I have found Elevator tradesmen to be excellent in fall protection compliance, nevertheless you still need to monitor compliance and express your concerns on the fall hazards associated with their work. In developing trusting relationships with your workers in the field, a key component to a successful and safe work environment is demonstrating your concerns for the workers' welfare.