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Falls are the leading cause of serious workplace injuries in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 alone, 805 people lost their lives in workplace falls, and an additional 211,640 were injured badly enough to require days away from work.
Organizations must take a proactive approach to their prevention of workplace falls. Organizations must also change to meet OSHA requirements due to industry changes.
For example, one of the earliest forms of fall protection implemented was the body belt. Unfortunately, while body belts provided extra protection, OSHA banned their use in the 1990s.
Fall protection has continued to evolve since then, becoming lighter, stronger, more comfortable, and designed to limit the impact on the wearer’s body, all while allowing employees a full range of motion. However, statistic show that fall protection remains one of OSHA’s most frequently cited standards.
This blog will explore how you can protect your workers by creating comprehensive fall protection plans.
Establishing and implementing a comprehensive, written fall protection plan is one of the most significant steps a company will do to keep employees from falls. Enforcement of the company’s procedures is just as important as writing the plan. So, what does a solid fall protection plan cover?
Conduct assessments regularly and document current and potential fall hazards, their location, how often workers are exposed, and their potential severity.
Now that you know the worksite fall hazards, you can begin to plan how to prevent, mitigate, or remove them. Start by reviewing existing safety procedures and building off them to fill any gaps.
A written fall protection plan identifies who is responsible for different aspects of the plan. For example:
How will your company communicate with staff about fall hazards in their worksite or changes to the fall protection plan? Remember, you must not only share the plan with all members of the organization and train to that plan, but you also need to do so in a language they can understand.
The plan should provide a list of authorized equipment in your facility to use and be purchased based on their specific scope of work.
For example, if your company regularly performs work near a leading edge, your plan should indicate that only lanyards approved for leading-edge work are used. Random inspections, along with before every use inspection should be required and non-approved or company compliant equipment should be discarded. If not, you may encounter a situation where an employee uses a non-approved piece of equipment, and it fails.
Company’s must train their employees on every piece of gear required to do their job. A trained employee that is compliant with the regulations is a safer employee.
Doing this requires companies to train regularly and use the equipment to where you can understand its limitations and also know from a company standpoint the short comings and engineer other safeties to go along side your Fall Protection program. Training should be to where things come as second nature, and the employee wants to do it within the guidelines set because they are comfortable with what is required from them.
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