According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fall protection violations once again topped the list for 2015 with 7,402 total violations. The good news is that the numbers are down from previous years; there were 7,516 violations recorded in 2014. Furthermore, there are more than 50,000 "Struck by Falling Object" OSHA Recordables every year in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; that's one injury caused by a dropped object every 10 minutes.
The key to continuing to lower these numbers in 2016 and beyond is worker training and support. We need to make sure every worker understands the basics of wearing and maintaining his or her fall protection equipment — and that includes you.
Using Fall Safety Gear
Even as the owner, to make the most of your company's safety gear, you should first familiarize yourself with your company's fall protection program, and then be sure you understand how to use the equipment safely, within the context of that plan and jobsite.
For example, if part of your job is to apply the coatings, you should examine whether your equipment matches the jobsite particulars and whether the gear provides a safe amount of fall clearance to ensure you aren't at risk of hitting anything below. You should also ensure that you have a safe and secure anchor point and connection for both yourself and your equipment.
In addition, you should make sure that you know not only how to use the gear but also how to set it up properly. For example, a tool that isn't attached correctly to a D-ring can lead to preventable accidents and can even end in a tragedy.
From a managerial standpoint, simply providing your workers with a plan, the tools, and the right equipment is not enough, especially when it comes to fall protection. Unlike hard hats, safety glasses, and gloves, which may be intuitive to use, fall protection gear is more specialized, and most workers do not know how to use it properly.
It goes without saying that the effectiveness of fall protection gear, no matter how durable or reliable, will be compromised when your workers don't use it correctly. That's why you should always enlist a specialist to show your workers not only what tools to use but how to use them properly.
On-site training courses are also a great solution, as they allow your workers to apply the training — and gear — directly to their specific jobsite and to their personal daily activities.
Fall Protection Gear for People
When protecting your workers at all heights, the ABCDs of fall protection can act as a checklist to ensure they are all using the right equipment.
Download the checklist here.