The Fundamentals of Fall Protection Equipment

Working at height is a risky affair. While it enables a number of functions to be performed with ease and quickly, working at height has never been a safe zone to step in. Falls have always been a major life-taking factor in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 291 fatal falls to a lower level in construction in 2013, out of 828 total fatalities.

Any incident that is related to the falls is generally complex and involves several factors, both human and equipment-related. Understanding this fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has shared a beginners’ guide for fall protection equipment. The guide serves an excellent piece of information to understand fall protection for all those involved in construction work.

Subpart M

This one is a specific guide that talks about the requirements and criteria for fall protection in construction workplaces. The guidelines mentioned in Subpart M are applicable when workers are working at a height of 6 feet or more, protection from falling objects, falls though holes, etc. But, these cannot be applied on workers involved in inspecting, assessing or investigating activities prior to the actual start of their work or after their work has been completed. 

Employers’ responsibilities to provide Fall Protection

It is important for the employers to access the safety conditions of the workplace. They must check and determine if the workplace of their employees are safe to walk or have the essential strength and integrity. This is done to ensure if the employer needs to provide the fall protection equipment of its employees.

An employer can provide his/her employees with a fall protection system using quardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. These systems are commonly referred to as conventional fall protection by OSHA. The other systems and methods that are available for fall protection can be used when an employee is performing certain activities, such as working on formwork.

Do’s and don’ts for using fall protection systems

Being careful and attentive are the two basic requirements for using fall protection systems at height. Apart from these, there are a different set of do’s and don’ts that have been set up by the OSHA to ensure a safe use of these systems. A few of these include: 

Do’s

  • Wearing a connector to always stay connected.
  • Ensuring that the connector fits completely.
  • Make use of guardrails or lifelines.
  • Ensuring utmost quality of fall protection equipment before use.
  • Protecting all holes, openings, and skylights.

Don’ts

  • Never disconnect from the lifeline.
  • Do not work around unprotected openings or skylights.
  • Never make use of defective equipment.
  • Never try to overreach.
  • Do not begin your job without accurate planning.

Workers’ rights

To ensure the maximum safety and security to the workers’, OSHA has framed certain guidelines that ensure that they stay safe. It also gives them the rights that can be applicable if the need arise. Some of their rights include:

  • Work in conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
  • Receive timely information and training about workplace hazards, ways to prevent them, as well as the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace in a language and vocabulary they understand.
  • Evaluate the records of any work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation.

There’s a lot more about fall protection equipment and systems that workers should be aware about.

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