Fall protection is an essential part of workplace safety. When workers operate at levels of four or six feet or more above the floor level, they are at risk of serious injury in case of a fall. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide fall protection for workers, in keeping with the three-step OSHA process of plan, provide and train. Fall protection courses that simulate real-world work environments and provide training with state-of-the-art equipment can help improve workplace safety.
Plan, provide and train
The Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA) outlines the three steps that every employer and workplace must take in order to ensure workplace safety. These are plan, provide and train. The first step is a risk assessment of the workplace, identifying potential hazards and strategies for dealing with them.
The second step is to provide all necessary safety equipment for workers. This can be everything from safety nets and guard rails to individual slings and harness. The third step is to train workers in fall protection. This can be best achieved by fall protection courses, which can be conducted in well equipped facilities or even on site.
Step one: Risk assessment
The first step in setting up a fall protection system is to assess the risks. According to OSHA guidelines, workers who are at a height of four feet or more should be provided fall protection equipment like safety nets, guard rails, ladders, scaffolds, and slings.
The height at which fall protection must be provided varies according to the industry, and is pegged at four feet for general industry. It is five feet for shipyards, six feet for construction and eight feet for longshoring operations. Falls from these heights can be dangerous and even fatal.
Step two: providing the right equipment
It is the employer’s responsibility to provide all necessary safety equipment. This can be general protection in the form of safety nets, scaffolding, guard rails and ladders, or personal fall protection like lifelines, harness and slings.
In the absence of temporary floors and scaffolds, safety nets can be used when the fall distance is more than 25 feet. Safety equipment serves four purposes to allow workers to carry out their tasks in safety: fall arrest, positioning, suspension and retrieval.
Step three: fall protection courses and training
All workers should be properly trained in the use of equipment and well as all methods of fall protection and safety. Fall protection courses can be offered in specially equipped training facilities or on site.
The purpose of the training is to familiarize workers with the equipment that they will be using as well as the kinds of situations that may occur.
Workplace safety is important from the employer’s point of view as well as for the workers themselves. OSHA regulations make it the employer’s responsibility to provide danger-free working conditions and to keep the workplace clean and dry as far as possible. Appropriate equipment and training through fall protection courses should be provided to workers at no cost to themselves.