Worker injuries and illnesses have been falling for decades, largely due to greater awareness of the need for safety and improvements in safety equipment. In 1972, about 11 out every 1,000 workers was injured or became sick on the job. Forty years later that number had fallen to 3.4. Safety features such as slings and nets on jobs where workers have to be up off the ground have contributed greatly to this decline in injuries.
If you’ve ever seen workers on a high-rise buildings, you will notice that most if not all of them are wearing rigging that tethers them to the building in some way. This is what a sling is. A sling works by attaching the worker to the building so that if he loses his balance or slips, he can only fall a few feet before he is stopped by the sling. This type of fall protection is standard on any construction site where workers will be even a few feet off the ground. In fact, OSHA requires fall protection at most construction sites if workers will be at least six feet off the ground, and as little as four feet off the ground in some other situations. There are a number of different types of slings made from different materials that can be employed in different construction situations. Some slings only attach to the lower body while others are full-body harnesses.
Another method of fall protection is nets. Nets can serve a dual safety role on a construction site. They can be used to catch workers if they fall, and they also can be used to either transport heavy cargo to upper floors and to catch heavy objects that fall so they don’t hit workers. Many construction sites employ both types of fall protection equipment just to be safe, although doing so can increase costs. Since sling protection usually is required, it is used much more often.
Keeping workers safe on a job site just makes good sense. Not only to government regulations require it, but workers who are injured or become sick because of their job can be a huge cost burden on a business, both in direct costs related to the injury or illness and in indirect costs that include lost work time. Being proactive about safety is the way to go.