There are no shortcuts when it comes to workplace safety.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) spells out in great detail what procedures are required, and one major area of concern has to do with accidental falls. There are many fall protection courses available that teach the specific measures that need to be taken in various situations and how safety equipment is to be used.
OSHA fall protection training breaks down into three important parts: plan, provide and train.
Planning, of course, requires a comprehensive evaluation of the risks. All potential hazards must be found, identified and eliminated. For example, anyone working six feet or more above ground level is at risk for serious injury or even death. So the “provide” aspect mandates the presence of both adequate fall protection and the proper scaffolding, ladders and safety gear such as lifelines. Any fall arrest system must function properly with a test weight of about 300 pounds. And as a general rule, OSHA requires that the length of any fall be no further than six feet, whether arrested or not.
Fall protection courses teach that assembly and disassembly of equipment absolutely must be done in accordance with its manufacturer’s recommendations. They also stress the importance of performing a visual inspection of all safety devices before they’re used or at a minimum once a day. Anything found to be defective, of course, needs to be tagged and taken out of service right away.
Anyone using safety equipment will be required to undergo fall arrest training. Depending upon the type of industry, specific knowledge of rigging equipment and lifting slings may be included.
An employer’s standard practice should be for new employees to be instructed on the proper use of fall protection devices before they start working, and a form must be provided for them to sign to acknowledge that they have received the information.
In addition to taking fall protection courses, employees should be made aware of a company’s formal fall protection work plan, which has to be reviewed before any work is done on a job site and every week thereafter at mandatory safety meetings. Everyone who participates in these sessions must be required to sign a roster of attendees.