In the workplace, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that fall protection had nearly $20 million in penalties across all industries and topped the list of OSHA’s most frequently cited standards during fiscal year 2014, with hazard communication and scaffolding holding the second and third positions.
The construction industry was at the receiving end of most of the agency’s scrutiny, and for good reason. In 2013, falls were the leading cause of worker deaths on construction sites, accounting for 294 fatalities out of 796 total fatalities in construction.
What the Standard Says
OSHA’s fall protection standard for the construction industry requires employers to determine “if the walking/working surfaces on which its employees are to work have the strength and structural integrity to support employees safely. Employees shall be allowed to work on those surfaces only when the surfaces have the requisite strength and structural integrity.”
Additionally, employees on walking/working surfaces with an unprotected side or edge that are six feet or more above a lower level must be protected from falling by use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
Avoid the Citation
A lack of compliance can lead to unsafe working conditions and/or a citation that yields a hefty fine. To maximize worker safety and minimize your construction firm’s risk, follow these tips to ensure compliance with OSHA’s fall protection standard when employees work on ladders, scaffolds, roofs and other elevated surfaces.
- Plan ahead – Have a clear idea of how the job will be completed and make sure to budget for the appropriate safety equipment for completing each task.
- Provide the proper equipment – OSHA states that workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. Ensure the ladders and scaffolds used onsite are specific to that particular job, as well as have personal fall arrest systems available for every employee who needs one.
- Train your workers – Ensuring that your employees know how to set-up and operate machinery safely is essential to complying with the fall protection standard.
Summit Training Source Offers Training to Help Lower Risk of Injury
Fall Protection – This dynamic program from Summit addresses all of the major factors in fall incidents, including correct selection, use and care of fall protection equipment, knowing when fall arrest equipment is necessary, and recognizing and preventing fall hazards.