Falls from heights are one of the leading causes of disabling injuries in the United States, and these incidents are incredibly costly—in more ways than one. The Liberty Mutual Insurance Workplace Safety Index reports that falls cost organizations more than $5 billion a year and that cost is increasing. And, in 2013, a jury awarded an Illinois construction worker $64 million in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a workplace fall injury. The worker was left mostly paralyzed from the chest down after a 15-foot fall from a steel beam onto a concrete foundation below.

Even if your organization hasn't experienced a fall recently, having no fall incidents doesn't necessarily mean you have an effective fall protection program. Unfortunately, the rarity of accidents can lull both management and workers into a false sense of security. But, managing the major risks presented by falls is a smart and ethical business investment—in addition to a legal requirement.

If you want to protect your workers and your organization, a comprehensive fall protection plan is imperative.

A Defined Process

OSHA and The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provide guidance for organizations that need to solve fall protection challenges. OSHA conveys five core elements of a safety program as:

  • Management leadership and employee participation

  • Hazard identification and assessment

  • Hazard control

  • Training

  • Program evaluation

The ANSI Z359.2-2007 standard on managed fall protection programs outlines similar elements to create and sustain an effective fall protection program. While this standard is voluntary, it provides more detailed guidance and best practices for creating and implementing a fall protection program.

When considering the core elements, how does your company's fall protection program rank? Would it be a model program—compliant across the board and applying industry best practices? Would it be acceptable, mostly compliant but with a few things that need improvement? Or does it need work in many areas? By taking a deeper look at how your program ranks in each core element, you can take the next step in having a fully compliant, comprehensive program.

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