Staying Safe at Heights

Date: May 28, 2024

Carrie Kolodji, Sr. Risk Control Analyst

The Ultimate Guide to Fall Protection PPE

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, just over one-third of construction deaths were due to falls, slips, and trips. Of those, almost all were from falls to a lower level. Using fall protection PPE can either prevent a fall from occurring or arrest a fall before the worker strikes the ground.

Types of Fall Protection PPE

To ensure compliance with safety regulations and the well-being of workers, workers must understand the different types of fall protection PPE.

  1. Anchor Point: An anchor is a secure point where equipment is attached.
  2. Full-Body Harness: A full-body harness is the most crucial element, designed to distribute fall forces over the body, minimizing the risk of injury during and after a fall.
  3. Lanyards: Lanyards are flexible lines that secure workers to an anchor point.
  4. Lifelines: Lifelines reduce falls while working at heights by preventing a fall from happening, or if a fall has already happened, it can stop a worker mid-fall before reaching the ground.

Importance of Fall Protection PPE

When fall protection PPE goes unused, it can result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures, soft tissues and internal injuries, and death.

Best Practices for Fall Protection PPE

Know the Risks: Falls create a significant risk in various environments and can occur from any height, regardless of distance from the ground. Common hazards that contribute to falls include unprotected edges and open holes where one might not notice the danger until it's too late. Additionally, adverse weather conditions can increase the risk of falls. Wind, rain, ice, and snow can all create slippery surfaces and unstable conditions that make it difficult to maintain balance and safe footing.

Proper Assessment: Before starting any task, it is crucial to complete a thorough inspection of the area and look for potential fall hazards. This preliminary step is essential for identifying the need for fall protection measures, such as guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). Failing to conduct a thorough assessment or having a comprehensive safety plan can significantly increase the vulnerability of your workers to fall-related accidents. Ensuring a well-evaluated and equipped work environment is key to maintaining safety and preventing injuries.

Use and Inspection

Ensure all workers are trained on the correct use of fall protection equipment. This training should emphasize the importance of consistently inspecting personal protective equipment (PPE) before each use to check for any signs of wear, damage, or defects. Should any issues be identified during these inspections, it is crucial to remove the affected equipment from service immediately and replace it to maintain the safety and integrity of the workplace safety measures.

Emergency Response

Effective emergency response is crucial in maintaining a safe working environment. It's essential to have a comprehensive plan in place for responding to falls and other emergencies. Training employees on how to perform a rescue safely is equally important, as it empowers them to handle situations correctly and confidently, minimizing the risk of further injury. Additionally, employees must immediately report all incidents, near misses, or hazards to their supervisors. Prompt reporting can help in addressing potential risks promptly, thereby preventing future accidents and maintaining a secure environment for everyone.

While fall protection PPE is crucial for reducing the risk of injury in the event of a fall, it is not foolproof. Proper training, regular equipment inspection, hazard assessment, and adherence to safety protocols are equally important in preventing falls and minimizing the severity of injuries when they occur. For more jobsite safety tips, contact your BITCO Risk Control Consultant. Click the button below to find an agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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