Fall protection tips for 2020

10 Fall Protection tips for 2020

The discussion on how to best future proof our lifestyles and buildings is raging worldwide. Part of the considerations is how to utilize rooftops to the fullest. Rooftops no longer serve only to protect, they are now also used as gardens. However, when making decisions on how to best use the space available, the safety aspect often gets underexposed.

Many employees, in various industries, work in situations where fall hazards exist. And every year many workers are confronted with a fall from height. Either because they fall and their equipment saves them, or because someone else in the workplace experiences a fall.

1. Provide a workplace free from hazards

Employers have a duty to ensure hazards in the workplace are countered and workers are not at risk.

With a risk assessment you document the risks in the worksite and what preventative measures are taken to prevent accidents. At the start of the new year, ensure that the risk assessment for your worksite is accurate and up-to-date.

2. Report unsafe conditions

Don’t hesitate in reporting unsafe conditions. This way you not only ensure your own safety, you also ensure your co-workers’ safety.

As employer you should ensure there is a way for employees to report unsafe conditions, without them feeling there will be negative consequences. Open communication about fall hazards is important for avoiding accidents.

3. Don’t take shortcuts

Falls from height often occur when people try to take a shortcut to work. For example, a person thinking they only need to do a quick job at height, and they don’t attach to the existing lifeline system. Or not tying down tools, because it is too much work. Both of these situations are dangerous and should be avoided.

4. Ensure emergency/rescue procedures are in place

By law an employer is required to provide timely rescue, should a person have fallen. You also want to provide quick and appropriate rescue as hanging in a harness is no joy. Plus long(er) exposure to hanging in suspension can have negative impacts on a person’s health as well.

Therefore it is necessary to document rescue procedures ahead of starting any work. Those involved in the rescue can then be trained and everyone will know their task in case of an emergency.

Have rescue procedures in place in case a fall occurs

5. Wear the right PPE for the job

Working at height often means working with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for fall protection, such as a harness and a lanyard. It is important to use the right equipment, not only for the job, but also for the person. For example, most harnesses are tested with a weight of 100 kg (220 lbs). This means that the combined weight of the person and the tools they are using, should not exceed that maximum load. If you do, then the safety of a user cannot be guaranteed should a fall occur. Additionally, the harness should fit a user well, and should be comfortable to wear. If not, a user will try to find a way around using the equipment.

6. (Re)train workers

Understanding and awareness of fall hazards is essential to preventing accidents. Therefore training is necessary, but employees who work at height daily can become blind to the risks they face every day. So, it’s also good to think about retraining and pre-work safety discussions.

7. Never work at height alone

This should be a bit of an open door. Never work at height alone, should something happen there will be no one there to help you. When a fall accident occurs, your colleagues won’t notice you hanging in your harness. And if you happen to be unconscious during your fall, you can’t call for help yourself. So work with a buddy, and keep each other safe.

8. Pre-work audits / Pre-work checks

Pre-use inspection of equipment is very important. With a quick visual inspection you can determine if your equipment is safe for use, or if there are possible weak points in the material. If the last is the case, retire the equipment, do not use it as you can put yourself in danger.

9. Keep the workplace clean

Keeping the workplace clean of slip and trip hazards helps prevent falls. A way to do so is to ensure good housekeeping. If a spill happens, make sure to clean it up right away. Also make sure tools aren’t scattered all over the workplace. They do not just pose a risk to those working at height (trips), but they can also pose a risk when they fall from height.

10. Don’t get distracted

Make sure that the attention is on the job at hand and the surroundings in which the job takes place. An example is using your phone, while at height. Do not walk around while using your phone. You may not notice how close you are to an edge, or other fall hazard, when you are looking at your phone.

Download the poster to ensure safety while working at height is top of mind in 2020.

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