Getting the job done while simultaneously keeping workers safe is the goal of every company. However when job duties require working at heights each task should be evaluated for its risk and how that risk of injury can be decreased or eliminated altogether.
In its simplest terms, fall protection protects a worker in a fall whereas fall prevention keeps the worker from falling in the first place. So obviously fall prevention is what every company should strive for. Always think about fall hazards before the work begins to manage fall hazards and focus attention on prevention efforts.
Some jobs will always have to be performed at heights, but each company should review tasks to see where changes might be made to keep workers safer. For example, instead of a driver crawling all over a flatbed load to cover it with a tarp, consider using an overhead tarping system that the driver can operate from the ground. Some other safeguards to add could be guard rail systems around a work area, non-slip walking surfaces, a tether system that keeps the worker from reaching an unprotected edge and more.
If changes cannot be made to complete a job task, then OSHA regulations require that fall protection be provided “at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction.” Because of the risks encountered in a fall, especially “harness hang” ensure that all workers know how to quickly yet safely lower a fallen worker to safety.