4 Tips for Better Fall Protection at Your Facility
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In fact, falls annually account for 15% of all accidental deaths and 25% of all reported injury claims in wholesale retail and trade jobs.
However, the right training and equipment can significantly reduce the risk of falls in your facility, as well as the resulting lost momentum and income. Below are four key considerations for improving fall protection practices at your facility.
1. Create a secure work area
The risk of falls presents itself in a wide range of spaces and situations across your facility, including overhead platforms, elevated workstations, ledges, and even holes and trenches. Determine the risks present in your space by conducting a job-hazard analysis. A JHA, also sometimes called a job-safety analysis, involves documenting the application and its associated risks and hazards, and then outlining how you will protect employees from them.
Once you know what fall hazards are present in your facility, you can determine the best way to protect your workers. Your process for protecting your workers from fall hazards takes the form of a fall protection safety program. Documenting these processes ensures all team members know what to do in the event of a fall, and what is being done to mitigate the risk of falls as they go about their work.
OSHA advises taking several steps to protect your workers from fall hazards. Those steps include:
- Furnishing workers with necessary protective gear.
- Keeping work area floors clean and as dry as possible.
- Incorporating fall protection at heights of 4 feet in general work areas, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in construction zones, and 8 feet in longshoring operations.
- Covering or otherwise guarding any floor holes into which a worker could fall.
- Affixing guardrails and toe boards at the edge of every elevated platform, floor, or runway with open sides.
Other steps for reducing fall hazards in your facility include:
- Equipping all staircases with secure handrails.
- Implementing adequate lighting in high-risk spots, such as stairways, ramps, basements, and work areas, so employees can easily navigate.
- Identifying fall risks with audible and visual safety signals, such as hazard signage, warning tape, and strobes.
- Removing all loose flooring, carpeting, and mats in areas with a high fall risk, and replacing any missing floor tiles or bricks on walking surfaces.
- Laying moisture-absorbent entry mats inside entrance doors to reduce standing water and slippery surfaces.
2. Prioritize training
Training is the first and most important part of any fall protection safety program. If your team believes your organization takes safety seriously, they will too. Consider these steps when developing your organization’s fall protection safety program and training workers to follow it:
- Confirm workers understand specific language or terms used in written safety instructions.
- Limit the number of workers allowed in a particular high-risk fall area, especially smaller spaces.
- Ensure workers understand how to properly wear and use fall prevention equipment, such as safety harnesses and lifelines.
- Provide comprehensive training on the use of all equipment.
- Institute cleaning protocols to keep floors free of grease, wood dust, powder, or other contaminants, including slippery polish and wax, that can cause workers to lose their footing.
- Emphasize the importance of keeping elevated worker areas clutter-free. Place trash cans throughout the facility for easy cleanup.
- Encourage employees to wear shoes or boots with optimal traction and well-tied laces.
- Instruct workers to take their time with tasks and limit distractions. Being in a hurry or using a cell phone while moving through work areas can increase the chances of slips, trips, and falls.
- Clearly identify fall risks with hazard signage, taping, and other warning systems and barriers, and instruct employees on their meaning and significance.
- Ensure your fall protection plan has a fall rescue plan included. This plan should outline steps taken by the on-site crew. Calling 911 should be a part of that plan, but it should not be the only step.
3. Have the right equipment ready
Once workers are trained and ready to conduct work where fall protection equipment is required, make sure they have what they need to work safely. The foundational pieces include anchor points, body harnesses, and connectors. Consider additional gear to implement fall prevention practices:
- Purchase engineered track fall protection systems, so your workers can secure themselves to a safe apparatus when navigating heights.
- Provide full-body harnesses to safely distribute the weight of the fall throughout the body rather than a specific area like the waist or shoulders, reducing the risk of serious injury.
- Have proper harness sizes available for all workers.
- Consider self-retracting lifeline systems to minimize fall clearance.
- Require all workers to wear hard hats.
- Regularly inspect equipment, such as lanyards, pulleys, and connectors, and replace any items showing significant wear.
- Install netting under high-risk fall areas.
- Incorporate confined-space hoist systems or tripod hoist systems near high-risk areas to return workers to safety.
- Invest in fall arrest posts, which decrease the fall distance.
- Keep confined-space escape ladders handy so an employee can climb to safety.
4. Make accountability a habit
Fall prevention practices are only effective if you continuously reinforce their importance. Simply developing standards, documenting them, and offering instruction isn’t enough. You must provide follow-up training and ensure all employees continuously follow safety protocols. Make sure to:
- Document your fall protection program and annual OSHA-mandated equipment inspection.
- Require employees to complete regular training to reinforce company fall prevention protocols.
- Develop system checklists, so your workers inspect equipment before every use and annually.
- Institute consequences if employees fail to adequately follow fall prevention protocols.
- Award employees annually for their commitment to a safe workplace.
Global Industrial can help you protect your workers against falls on the job. Contact our product experts to get started.
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