Fall protection has, over the years, evolved into a top priority for the workplace, especially in locations where physical work is the norm and where heavy equipment is commonly used. Construction type jobs where workers spend time up on high places, roofs, tall buildings, etc., have increased their requirements in the area of fall protection and training workers to be sure that every step toward safety is carried through. Requirements set down by OSHA maintain that protection be provided by different workplaces at a variety of elevations depending upon the heights to which employees must go to carry out the work they do. For instance, in a workplace where general labor is done, the requirement is that fall protection be provided from four feet high, in shipyards from five feet high, from six feet at construction sites, and in longshoring workplaces the height begins at eight feet.
It is of the utmost importance that workers in any field where there is any possibility of a fall be trained and retrained in the steps to take in order to avoid any work related falls. When employees begin work with a new company where their job could involve the possibility of any type of fall, the company will often provide fall protection courses even before work begins. A company looking after not only their own protection against possible lawsuits that could result from a bad fall, but also demonstrating a real concern for their workers, will provide ongoing training at intervals throughout a person’s employment. This will keep employees informed regarding new laws and rules, as well as new methods of protection that will reinforce and strengthen on the job safety. In order to save lives and prevent falls, OSHA has developed a three step process toward the education of employees and the companies they work for. These steps are simple; they are plan, provide, and train.
Workplaces are required to provide safety equipment and safety wear to their employees at no cost to their workers, according to OSHA. If no fall arrest, or safety protection, is provided, a person can actually fall seven feet in the space of two thirds of one second. OSHA requires certain steps be taken by employers toward the safety of their workers. Some of these are the training of workers given in easy to understand language, nothing technical, but instruction in layman’s terms. Another step, of course, involves the provision of safety wear and safety equipment as a part of the job, at no charge to the employee. Employers are, in addition, required to keep work areas clean, dry, and free of debris that could cause a fall resulting in injury, or even death to workers. Last, but certainly not least, companies must keep the workplace free of any type of danger to the people working for them. OSHA fall protection standards are not flexible when it comes to the safety of the worker.
Fall protection systems include a wide variety of fall protection equipment. Depending upon the type of work being done in the workplace, there are systems that will fit the needs and requirements for the stable protection of workers. Included in the different types of fall protection systems are harnesses, lifelines, trusses, trolleys, rails and beams, and safety gates. There are systems that can be delivered and installed by the manufacturer, as well as portable systems that are ideal for temporary work sites. Safety nets are available for use on work sites where there is no scaffold or temporary floor installed, and where the distance of a possible fall is more than 25 feet.
For fall protection and fall prevention on a roof, there are several types of specific equipment available. There are mounted and weighted anchors, anchorage points, guardrails, and roofers kits provided by manufacturers that all comply with OSHA regulations. Access systems are also manufactured in order to provide workers safe access to the work site. Platforms and gangways are available, with or without staircases or ladders. In addition, manufacturers of safety equipment often provide inspection services for companies to ensure that all standards are met, and will be documented for additional coverage.