Entering the 3rd week of National Safety Month and falls are at the top of the list again in 2018. Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries in manufacturing, construction, distribution, and many other industries. Thankfully there are a number of strategies that can be used to protect workers from falls including pedestrian guardrail, personal fall protection systems, the implementation of safe work practices, and appropriate planning and training.
- Know What Rules Apply
Employers are required to provide a safe, injury-free environment for workers and fall protection has historically been the most-violated OSHA standard. It’s impossible to have a safe workplace without understanding what the latest regulatory requirements are, and these requirements change over time.
Pro Tip: Stay up-to-date with these changes! A good starting point is to visit the Fall Protection section of the OSHA website: www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection.
- Planning Ahead
Lack of proper fall protection often results from a lack of planning. Before workers perform tasks, have a lead regularly go over equipment to identify any potential issues. Have a plan of action if hazards are identified. This ensures that all equipment is functioning and maintained properly ahead of time.
Pro Tip: Good first step – set up an appointment with an experienced material handling professional to conduct a general safety and fall hazard assessment. W.W. Cannon documents all assessments, including the equipment that was evaluated, the date of the assessment, and authorization. Employers will be equipped with a documented list of potential hazards with protocols to fix or monitor equipment.
- Comfort is Important
One of the challenges of getting people to wear safety equipment properly is comfort, or the lack of. Harnesses and lanyards can be cumbersome, especially if worn for hours at a time. If they’re uncomfortable, chest straps get loosened, leg straps unbuckled, and lanyards get left lying around. Taking comfort into account when purchasing safety equipment can help ensure compliance.
Pro Tip: Request a visit or samples from the harness vendor to ensure comfortable, properly fitting equipment before purchase.
- Collective Fall Protection
Collective fall protection – also called passive fall protection – can be the simplest solution. These are called passive systems because no one has to take any particular action to utilize them.
Pro Tip: One secured pedestrian barrier installation, for example, protects all the workers on an elevated platform. And assigning personnel to maintain a guardrail is simpler than ensuring individuals are tying-off properly and have acceptable anchor points.
- Fall Restraint vs Fall Arrest
Fall restraint prevents a worker from falling in the first place, while fall arrest slows and stops an employee’s fall…after they’ve fallen. Guardrails and harness restraints will protect employees from injury because, when used properly, employees won’t fall in the first place. Both systems have their benefits for a variety of industrial/manufacturing and construction settings.
Pro Tip: Fall restraint products such as safety netting and pedestrian barrier guardrail are great for protecting workers from fall zones. For workers who need to reach unusual locations to perform their task, fall arrest equipment (connected to a secured base) must be worn in order to maintain compliance with ANSI code. ANSI Z359.3 states that fall restraint can only be used in areas with a slope between 0 and 18.4°. If an area falls outside those angles, a harness and secured base will be required. W.W. Cannon’s own Warehouse Lifeguard safety expert, Doug Hutchins, will ensure you get the correct system for your application – every time.
- Training is Vital
Every employee who uses personal fall protection must be trained about the dangers of falls and how to properly use those protection systems. If there are any changes in workplace operations or equipment, employee re-training is essential. And if an employee points out a potential safety hazard, hear them out. Don’t dismiss them as troublemakers. The concern they’re voicing could save a life.
Pro Tip: W.W. Cannon provides safety training for all fall prevention equipment. We ensure all qualified employees are equipped with correct safety and usage procedures. Documentation and safety training videos are provided.
Rely upon W. W. Cannon for Fall Protection Equipment
For expert advice on safety tips and equipment, talk to W. W. Cannon’s Doug Hutchins. He’s known throughout the industry as the “Warehouse Lifeguard” and has earned a reputation for outfitting companies with the best available fall protection solutions.
Hutchins says “We’ll help you find a cost-effective plan to keep your workers safe while complying with OSHA and best-practice safety standards.”
Taking Stock of Safety
Have a solid fall protection program in place, inspect your equipment, and ensure everyone is trained through W. W. Cannon. We understand safety requirements and the need to work within budgets. Our goal is to provide you with quality fall protection options that increase the safety of your employees.
Or call us at 800.442.3061 to set up a safety consultation, safety assesment visit, or any questions about Fall Prevention Systems. We’re here for you.