One fatal fall is all it takes to ruin your business and strike a major blow at your bottom line.
No matter if your facility is a dockyard, construction site or cement processing plant, if your employees are working at any height above four feet (1.22 m), they likely require strong fall prevention measures. Not only is fall prevention a matter of safety compliance, but preventing falls also translates into a more efficient workforce that protects human lives.
Here are five principles and practices to help you implement improved fall prevention at your facility or work site:
1. Only Employ OSHA-Compliant Fall Prevention
When searching for the right piece of fall prevention equipment, many business leaders ask if a particular safety solution is “OSHA approved.” However, that’s the wrong question to ask.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not approve, endorse or recommend any particular piece of safety equipment. In reality, your firm should be seeking OSHA-compliant equipment rather than pursuing the “OSHA approved” label.
Instead of seeking out “OSHA approved” fall prevention equipment, look for a safety solution compliant with current OSHA standards. It’s just as safe but gives you more options for competitive suppliers.
2. Increase Your Risk Awareness (And Act On It)
Preventing falls starts with a robust risk analysis of your site or facility. Before you’re able to prevent falls, you must be aware of the risk of falling at every point of a particular process. Once your analysis is complete, you need to enact a permanent solution to eliminate (or drastically reduce) those known risks.
Far too many businesses fail to analyze their risks, or fail to act on the insights they’ve gained once their risks have been analyzed. For example, scaffolding should always be a temporary measure and never a permanent fall prevention solution. Yet, to skirt known risks or regulations, many companies merely take down their scaffolding and then reinstall it instead of employing a permanent solution.
3. Use Secure Tie-Off And Anchorage Points
If your employees are tying-off as part of their fall protection equipment, OSHA has specific guidelines on what your site’s anchorage points need to be. In addition, most corporate safety standards exceed OSHA regulations. So, before your next safety evaluation, double check that your tie-off and anchor points are fully secure.
If a tie-off safety solution isn’t working well at your facility, look into an engineered solution like a safety cage or work stand to prevent future falls. These solutions make your operation much safer without having to rely on a secure tie-off from employees.
4. Don’t Overlook Infrequent Vulnerabilities
Most work site and facility managers appropriately address their most obvious fall prevention risk factors. However, they often fail to provide adequate fall protection in areas where employees only go once or twice a year.
Employees might only need to adjust a valve, check a piece of equipment or perform preventative maintenance on occasion, but their risk of falling is even greater since they’re unfamiliar with these areas. In order to keep your facility fall-free, shore up your fall prevention measures in these unfrequented areas as well.
5. Adjust To Changing Demographics
The general workforce is both aging and growing heavier, meaning your facility’s fall prevention measures must adjust to those trends. Since you don’t want employees to be over-reaching, you need to consider the ergonomics of these rising demographics.
For example, when it comes to work ladders, the average safe weight capacity for a ladder used to be between 200-225 lbs. (90-102 kg). But with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, obesity is now a legal disability and employers must make “reasonable accommodations” for these employees. New work ladders are now built with up to a 500 lb. (227 kg) capacity to adapt to changing demographics.
Fall prevention should be a serious concern for your facility, but implementing the right safety solution doesn’t have to be difficult. Start with these five steps to prevent future falls, and neither your employees nor your bottom line have to worry about the fatal consequences.
Is your worksite ready for its next fall prevention safety evaluation? Click below to take this online assessment and discover what safety metrics you need to be tracking for a safer workplace.