Building owners and employers are responsible for providing workers with the correct fall protection procedures and equipment when working at height. But employees also have a duty to follow safety procedures and use fall protection equipment properly. All of the responsibilities and fall protection measures for a jobsite are put together in a company’s fall protection program.
In this blog we’d like to describe some parts of a fall protection program. However, we feel we must stress that all fall protection measures differ per worksite, as each worksite is unique. Therefore all fall protection safety programs are one-of-a-kind, specifically set up for your company and location.
A fall protection program should cover the basics, describe the fall protection equipment to be used and detail safety procedures and training.
Fall hazard assessment
The start of any good safety program for working at height is the fall protection plan. In this plan the fall hazards in the worksite are analyzed and the measures to combat these hazards are selected. Company safety procedures, safe zones, fall protection equipment, personal protective equipment and training are some of the subjects need to be thought out in the plan.
After completion the fall protection plan must be accessible to all workers before they enter the worksite. Workers who will have to use fall protection equipment will need to be trained before starting their work.
A fall protection plan should help prevent hazardous situations and keep people from falling. But an accident can always happen and your need to be prepared. This is where the rescue plan comes in to play. When making a fall protection plan you also have to consider the possibility of a fallen worker. What happens when someone falls? And more importantly, how do you rescue a fallen worker? You only have a small time frame to rescue a worker in suspension, so you need to be prepared for rescue. This is what the rescue plan is for. The rescue plan is a detailed description of the situation, the rescue team and the rescue materials used for getting someone down from suspension.
All employees who work at height need to be trained in identifying risks, safety procedures, and properly using fall protection equipment and personal protective equipment, such as a full body harness. What training is necessary for your site depends on the outcome of your fall protection plan.
Don’t overlook the importance of training, powerful instruction prevents injuries and fatal incidents. Want to read more about the important of training?
Roof Access Policy
Company safety policies are also a big part of a fall protection program. A roof access policy for example will help you get a grip on who has access to your roof and help you ensure that the people who work at height know how to work safely.
We have put together a roof access policy checklist for building owners or facility managers.
Last Minute Risk Analysis (LMRA)
Another company safety policy that can greatly benefit your fall protection program is the Last Minute Risk Analysis (LRMA). Before someone enters an unsafe area where fall hazards exist he or she conducts a short, final assessment. The objective of this last minute assessment is to create awareness of the fall hazard as well as exclude potential risks. A LMRA is often a short checklist.
All Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needs to be inspected before use. This is something we advise as manufacturer, but also something companies should stress in their fall protection programs.
Fall protection PPE, such as a full body harness, lanyard or fall arrest device, keeps people safe at height. Therefore they need to be inspected for damages and deformations before the work starts, every time. If a harness, for example, has been damaged it compromises the safety of the equipment, and thus the safety of the user.
Fall protection means a constant cycle of creating awareness among those who work at height, as well as improving safety procedures. Habituation is a risk because we humans become too familiar with a situation. But fall hazards should never be underestimated. Therefore it’s smart to keep bringing safety and people’s behavior to the spotlight.
But we also recommend talking to your workers about the fall protection equipment they have to use and the company’s fall protection program. Does it work for them, or is it hindering their work? Are safety procedures really covering the hazardous situations, or are certain fall hazards overlooked.
Safety is an ongoing process, but setting up a dynamic fall protection program will allow you to manage the risks.