Slips, trips, and falls make up the majority of general industry accidents
Are second only to motor vehicle crashes
Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Employers must take measures in their workplaces to prevent employees from falling off overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.
Unless working on a ladder, scaffold or scissor lift, OSHA requires fall protection when exposed to a 4-foot fall or greater.
Ladders, scaffolds, and scissor lifts have their own fall prevention requirements.
Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment, employers must provide guardrails and toeboards.
Given current OSHA and industry information regarding general industry worksite illnesses, injuries, and/or fatalities, you must be able to recognize how to protect yourself from fall hazards.
Photo 1. This is a photo of two platforms on either side of a bucket conveyor. Access to the platforms is provided by the one ladder between them that stops at the level of the platform. Employees have to climb to either platform from the ladder. Once there they can step across the opening to the other platform when they have to access the conveyor for routine greasing or climb back down on the ladder and then climb back up to the other platform.
Photo 2. Employees exposed to a 25 foot fall from conveyor platform with a defective guardrail.
Photo 3. Employees were exposed to falling 14 feet from the roof top of manufactured homes. Employees were working on the roof of manufactured home installing roof decking, roof sheating and electrical wiring without controls to prevent falls.
Photo 1. This photo is of a service pit used for oil changes and other vehicle maintenance. The pit is 50 inches deep.
Photo 2. Sheet metal not attached to vertical steel beams. Sheet metal pushed away from floor allowing the employee to fall.
Photo 1. Industrial tanks that often require worker access on top.
Photo 2. Man climbing off/onto tanker ladder and walking the top of the tanker.
Photo 3. Employee working above 4-feet on machine platform without fall protection.
Hierarchy of Fall Hazard Control:
Eliminate fall hazards
If workers must access the top of a tank to read a gauge. Moving the tank gauge to ground level would eliminate the need for fall hazard exposure. Providing stair access and a work platform with guardrails works as well.
Eliminate fall hazards –
Covering floor openings is a very effective way to eliminate a fall hazard, especially if access to the hole is rarely necessary.
When routine travel over the opening is necessary, often a cover is used, such as a trap-door. Covers must be designed to withstand the potential load that may be placed upon them. For example, a 36”x 36” floor-hole cover that will only experience foot traffic would be much different than one experiencing fork truck traffic.
They must also be secured (bolted, hinged, latched, locked) to prevent accidental displacement as well.
It should be noted that the employer should communicate who is authorized to open and/or remove the cover and that when the cover is opened or removed another means of protection is necessary. When the floor opening cover is opened, either a temporary guardrail must be in place or the opening must be constantly attended by someone until closed.
Guardrail systems are vertical barriers consisting of top rails, mid-rails, and intermediate vertical members. Guardrail systems can also be combined with toe-boards, which are barriers that prevent materials and equipment from dropping to lower levels.
Prevent the fall
Fences, barricades, and locked doors, whether inside the facility or outside, can be used to prevent unauthorized access to areas where a fall hazard exists. Only authorized and trained employees would have access. Once inside, a method of fall protection must be implemented for the authorized worker.
Prevent the fall
Fall restraint systems prevent falls by keeping the worker from reaching a fall hazard. While fall restraint systems are not mentioned in OSHA’s fall protection rules, OSHA will accept a properly used fall restraint system in place of a personal fall arrest system when the restraint system is rigged so that the worker cannot get to the fall hazard. In effect, (if properly used) the system tethers a worker in a manner that will not allow a fall of any distance. A fall restraint system is comprised of a body belt or body harness, an anchorage, connectors, and other necessary equipment. Other components typically include a lanyard, and may also include a lifeline and other devices. Note: A self-retracting lanyard is not appropriate for a fall restraint system unless the worker cannot reach the fall hazard when the lanyard is fully extended.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a qualified person to ensure proper installation of anchor points. OSHA recommends that fall restraint systems have the capacity to withstand 3,000 pounds of force or twice the maximum expected force that is needed to restrain the worker from exposure to the fall hazard. As a result, fall restraint may be a viable way to provide fall protection in situations in which the employer has concerns about the adequacy of available anchorage points for fall arrest equipment
Know the A, B, Cs of Personal Fall Arrest Systems
Installed, used, and maintained according to the manufacturer
A personal fall arrest system is a system used to safely stop (arrest) a worker who is falling from a working level. It consists of an anchorage, connectors, and a body harness. It also may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or suitable combinations of these.
It must be set-up to ensure that the worker will not free-fall more than 6 feet before the system begins to arrest the fall, hit the ground or an object below.
The higher the anchorage the better!
Anchorage Connectors are designed as the intermediary for securing a connecting device to an anchorage. The anchorage should be easily accessible, located at a safe distance and support 5,000 lbs. per worker
For areas with predictable and repetitive use, permanent anchors may be installed.
Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS) – full-body harness
The are many types of full-body harnesses. Regardless of make or model, they must be:
PFAS – connecting components
Photo one: A retractable lanyard. Designed to greatly decrease the free fall distance by locking-up quickly, similar to the shoulder belt in a car.
Photo two: A 6-foot shock absorbing lanyard. The shock absorber decreases the forces of the fall arrest on the body to safe levels when properly used.
Photo three: A 6-foot non-shock absorbing lanyard. Often used for fall restraint.
Control the fall – positioning devices
A position-device system enables the worker to work with both hands free on a surface such as a wall or other vertical structure. They are typically used as protection for concrete form work and placing rebar. The difference between a positioning-device system and a personal fall-arrest system is that the positioning device system supports the worker on an elevated surface and limits a fall to two feet.
Control the fall
Safety net systems:
Safety net systems consist of mesh nets, panels, and connecting components. They are typically used as protection for those who work 25 feet or more above lower levels.
Your employer must train you on the following:
Your employer must inspect the:
Photo: Welder on top of a tank without fall protection
Photo: This photo shows a worker exposed to a fall hazard while cleaning a wall.
Photo: Worker on an elevated work platform without fall protection.
Photo: This photo shows an unguarded pit used to service fork trucks.
Choose from the following options for the correct test answers: