Fall protection safety is an important measure that needs to be taken when working at heights. When reporting injuries in the work place, studies show falls tend to be the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. It is important for employers to set up the work place to prevent employees from falling by reducing the risks involved from working at heights. Investing in the proper fall protection equipment along with knowing the OSHA regulations will keep your employees safe and the company free from fines.
Setting up the workplace environment to prevent employees from falling is not always an easy task but employers must be vigilant in making sure their employees are safe at all times especially when working at heights. Setting up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls can be done with guardrails, safety gates, industrial fall protection netting and warning lines. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.
In order to prevent injury from falls in the workplace, OSHA states employers must:
- Guard every floor hole where a worker can accidently walk. According to OSHA, the use of a raining and a toe-board or a floor-hole cover would prevent falling.
- Provide guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway. OSHA 1910.23(d)(1)Every flight of stairs having four or more risers shall be equipped with standard stair railings or standard handrails as specified in paragraphs (d)(1)(i) through (v) of this section.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment guardrails and toe-boards must be provided to prevent the worker from falling and getting injured.
- Depending on the work environment and the job description, other means of fall protection equipment may be required to keep the employee safe. Safety equipment such as safety harnesses, safety nets, guardrail and handrail systems may be needed to prevent serious injury from falls.
- Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Keep floors in work areas a clean and dry condition.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language they can understand.