Working at a height presents the greatest dangers to construction workers on a construction site. If workers are at risk while performing their task, then the employer’s first priority on a site is to protect employees from possible fall hazards.
According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the fatality rate for construction workers is extremely high. In 2012 there were 704 fatalities attributed to falls, of that number 290 were in the Construction Industry. Falls from ladders and roofs still account for the majority of falls (41% of the total).
While these statistics are alarming, the majority of workplace accidents are not fatal. However, they do cause injuries resulting in pain/suffering, lost time, lost company revenue, increased worker’s compensation insurance rates and potential lifelong health problems for injured workers. Understanding the hazards present on the jobsite and addressing them through proper safety, safety training, planning and safe work practices is in the best interests of both employers and employees.
What is Fall Protection?
Guardrails and toe boards or other effective barriers should be used. However, there will be some areas where guardrails or other barriers are not practical. In these cases, workers must inspect and use approved personal fall arrest systems, safety nets or positioning devices to complete their task.
Components of Personal Fall Arrest Systems
Personal Fall Arrest Systems have three key components:
1. Anchorage/anchorage connector
2. Body wear
3. A connecting device that must be in place and properly used to provide maximum worker protection.
Safety Audits, Worksite Assessments and Job Safety Analysis: Protecting your most important company asset “The Worker”
An assessment of the work site must be conducted to determine if there are existing fall hazards. If such safety hazards are present or could become present, the employer is responsible for making the necessary steps to eliminate them. OSHA mandates that at any time a worker is at a height of 4 feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at 4 feet in general industry, 5 feet in maritime and 6 feet in construction.
A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) should be conducted and involve all stakeholders prior to the start of any job. Furthermore, the findings of a Job Safety Analysis should be reviewed daily prior to any work being done. Additionally the JSA for a particular task should be reviewed and revised anytime site conditions change during a project.
Benefits of a training program
Safety training classes help establish a safety culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and orientated on the potential safety hazards. Effective safety training involves/ engaging employees with innovative hands-on safety training. Interactive safety training is extremely effective and has a robust impact on your company’s safety culture.