Hierarchy of Fall Protection

In a perfect world no one would ever fall from great heights and be killed. But as we all know this is not a perfect world and gravity never takes a holiday.

If you have people working at heights every day it’s possible that they could easily become complacent about safety measures without even realizing it. It’s easy to become immune to the dangers involved in the job when things are going smoothly. That’s why it’s mandatory for your workers’ survival to follow the Hierarchy of Fall Protection. Before attempting any task that requires heights, check the Fall Protection Hierarchy, also referred to as Z359. It was created by two independent groups, The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), and is designed to keep workers safe on the job. 

Elimination or Substitution

The ideal solution is Fall Prevention, which eliminates the danger of falling altogether. That may entail finding ways for the worker to do his/her job without leaving the ground or adding guardrails around a work area.

Passive Fall Protection

Passive fall protection includes items like handrails, safety gates, guardrails and rooftop railings. Diagonal yellow warning lines are sometimes used to mark a perimeter.

Fall Restraint

Fall restraint is just like it sounds. It restrains a worker with a tether so he/she can preform the job easily but will never be able to reach an unprotected edge. Workers wear a harness; attach a fixed length strap to the harness D rings and then to an anchorage.

Fall Arrest

Fall arrest is a system designed to bring a safe stop to a person who is falling. Of course this is not the ideal scenario since it’s at the bottom of the hierarchy, but some jobs may not allow for safer substitutions. Proper fall arrest includes the following four items:

Anchorage, or fixed structure, with a coordinating connector.

Full Body Harness

Lanyard to connect the harness to the anchorage.

Deceleration Device to absorb and dissipate the forces that occur during a fall arrest.

Administration Controls

Changes that reduce the duration, frequency and severity of exposure to hazardous situations can also make tasks safer. Safety rules and policies, schedules, supervision and training can all help reduce the risk of a worker encountering a fall hazard.

Be sure to evaluate all tasks around the workplace to determine how to make hazardous jobs safer for your workers and other employees. Follow up with ongoing training, proper inspections, storage and maintenance.

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