The goal of a Fall Protection (FP) program is to avoid any foreseeable situation that may involve free fall of a worker on your site. The fact is that among occupational fatalities, 34% construction workers die from falls, and 14% overall in all industries.

Pre-planning of work projects is a strong element in effective FP programs; the key is to start early.

Identify Fall Hazards

You can identify fall hazards by evaluating proposed or traditional work methods. The three phases of a hazard are dormant, armed and active. This means that when workers are absent is the best time to put into effect FP procedures. It may be too late if exposures are occurring, especially if the worker is relied upon to do his own FP, usually with harness and lanyard, e.g., finding his own anchor point. If so chances are he may not be hooked up or hooked up adequately to protect himself.

Eliminate or Control Hazards

Those hazards can be eliminated through sequence, substitution, and safety engineering. This means that the safety influence must be on the design team to help detect improper design, especially when the maintenance to be done will likely expose workers to severe fall hazards. An example would be a 42" or higher parapet on all commercial buildings to reduce exposures. Another example would be to place screens over skylights while they are still on the drawing board.

You can control those hazards through PPE/engineered anchorages, training and maintaining

Pro-active vs. Reactive

Do you or others have to wait for a fall death before acting? Too many do. OSHA and NIOSH seem to study categories of work fall deaths exceeding 20 fatalities per year. Installing poster board fabric sections in a strong wind by a lone independent contractor might focus on the billboard owner for failure to provide anchorages, whereas similar wind conditions on a residential roof tear-off project might attract the attention of OSHA to foreman training and formalized regulations around conventional fall protection. The respect for the safety leader and his perseverant persuasion is critical.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.