Why do you need fall protection?
The top three causes of death in the workplace in the U.S. last year were:
- Workplace violence
- Vehicle related accidents
- Falls —
Each year, falls consistently account for the greatest number of preventable fatalities in the construction industry, and are always a major concern in other industries. Unrestrained falls from heights of over 10’ kill or disable 4 out of 5 victims. Unrestrained falls from heights of 11’ or more kill 4 out of 5 victims.
What is fall protection?
- A cultural change?
Fall protection is a series of steps taken to reasonably reduce or eliminate the risk of falling while in the workplace.
What are different types of fall protection?
Any equipment or structure that prevents individuals from falling. Guardrails, Parapet walls, nets, barricades, warning lines and perimeter cables are all forms of Fall Protection. OSHA requires that fall protection equipment must be in place prior to the workers being exposed to a fall. (OSHA 1926.502)
Fall Restraint equipment prevents you from actually being able to fall.
OSHA Defines Fall Restraint as: “a fall protection system that prevents the user from falling any distance. The system is comprised of either a body belt or body harness, along with an anchorage, connectors and other necessary equipment. The other components typically include a lanyard, and may also include a lifeline and other devices.” (1926.751)
While body belts are still allowed to be used in Fall Restraint applications we do not recommend that they are implemented when full body harnesses are also used or in situations where they could be used improperly.
Fall Arrest equipment actually catches you if you fall. Harnesses, lanyards, self-retracting lifelines and vertical lifelines are all Fall Arrest equipment. Perimeter netting is also fall arrest equipment. OSHA requires that all fall protection equipment when stopping a fall “limit maximum arresting force on an employee to 1,800 pounds (8 kN) when used with a body harness; be rigged such that an employee can neither free fall more than 6 feet (1.8 m), nor contact any lower level; bring an employee to a complete stop and limit maximum deceleration distance an employee travels to 3.5 feet (1.07 m); and, have sufficient strength to withstand twice the potential impact energy of an employee free falling a distance of 6 feet (1.8 m), or the free fall distance permitted by the system, whichever is less. (OSHA 1926.502)