Although it may be easier to see the hazards in an existing structure, it is safer and more cost effective to implement fall protection before structures or processes are built. This paper focuses specifically on the benefits and process of abating fall hazards before they're created. This is possible when safety measures are evaluated and implemented during the programming and design phases of a project.
This approach to safety has been promoted and applied in different ways. The concept of Safety through Design was introduced in the 1940s, but the design and construction industries did not begin adopting the process until the 1980s. Then in early 2012, a new consensus standard related to this concept, entitled Prevention through Design, was made effective by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). No matter what the concept is called, evaluating and implementing safety measures during the programming and design phases of construction ensures optimal safety for workers—from construction into operations and throughout ongoing maintenance. Besides the obvious enhanced safety benefits, addressing safety concerns early in the design process will significantly reduce the cost of addressing fall protection issues.
In this paper, a sample case study helps explain the basic benefits of incorporating fall protection measures into the design process. While the nuances of every project are different, the basic elements involved in moving these discussions earlier in the project timeline will provide safety, productivity, and cost benefits. To address all the factors, it is essential to gather the right team, including engineering, operations, and maintenance personnel.