Fall Protection - Outline
The following outline summarizes the major points of information presented in the Course on Fall Protection.
The outline can be used to survey the Course before taking it on a computer, as well as to review the Course when a computer is not available.
Some of the areas where fall prevention is critical include:
- Climbing ladders.
- Working on scaffolds.
- Other "off the ground" environments.
Each year falls "on the job" take a devastating toll.
- Over 11,000 deaths.
- More than 200,000 disabling injuries.
When working off the ground the right "mindset" is essential for proper safety.
- Safety must be first and foremost in your thoughts.
- Remember to scan work areas for potential hazards.
When working on Ladders:
- Inspect the rungs before climbing.
- Use the "three-point climb".
- Face the front of the ladder.
- Keep your hands on the side rails.
- Keep your weight centered between the rails.
Working in lift buckets or other portable platforms requires extra protection.
- Always secure yourself with a "tie-off."
Workers are more vulnerable when they are "on the move" above the ground.
- Always watch your step.
- Be aware of any trip hazards (remove them if possible.)
- Look for posted warning signs.
- Obey restrictions regarding authorized and protected areas.
Never work above ground in severe weather, such as:
If you are not feeling "100 percent", weakness or slow reflexes could cause real problems.
Don't work above ground if you are:
- Under the influence of alcohol.
- Taking certain medications.
Some people have a fear of heights.
- Don't force them to work above their comfort level.
- It could endanger everyone's safety.
The goal of a Fall Protection Plan is to eliminate the possibility of dangerous falls.
- The Plan shows which work areas present hazards.
- At most facilities, precautions must begin at four feet above the ground.
- In the construction industry, precautions must begin at six feet off the ground.
Complete fall protection must include at least one of the following components:
- Guard Rails.
- Safety Nets.
- Personal Fall Arrest Systems.
Installing a guard rail is an effective fall prevention system.
- Rails can be temporary or permanent.
- Some are fitted with screens and "toe boards."
- Be able to support 200 pounds.
- Stand 39 - 45 inches above the walking surfaces.
- Include a mid-rail.
- Be inspected during regular intervals.
When guard rails can not be installed, "Safety Nets" are often employed.
- These are commonly used on construction sites.
- "Personnel Nets" are designed to catch falling workers.
- "Debris Nets" are designed with a tighter mesh, to catch falling tools.
Inspect safety nets periodically to ensure that they remain in good condition.
- A minimum look at them every week.
- They should also be inspected after anything lands in the net.
- Tools and other materials that end up in the net should be removed quickly.
If the potential for falls cannot be designed out of a worksite, then "Personal Fall Arrest Systems" should be used.
Personal Fall Arrest Systems are comprised of three components which work together.
- A "Full Body Harness."
- A "Connecting Device."
- An "Anchor Point."
Before you use it, test and closely inspect all fall prevention equipment to:
- Experience how the equipment works.
- Make any necessary adjustments.
- Become comfortable and familiar with the system.
A full body harness provides the most support, and distributes weight evenly over three important areas of the body... the:
For a proper fit of a full body harness:
- Hold the back D-ring and shake it until the straps fall into place.
- Slip the straps over the shoulders so the D-ring is in the middle of the upper back.
- Buckle the waist strap.
- Connect the leg straps by pulling the buckles between the legs and securing them to the other ends of the straps.
- Firmly and securely tighten all buckles (but not so tight as to restrict movement).
Once your harness has been fitted, your next step is to hook it up to a connecting device.
- This links you to the anchor point.
- The most common types of connecting devices are "Lanyards" and "Retracting Lifelines."
Lanyards are short ropes or straps which:
- Limit your possible falling distance.
- Are available with shock absorbers if they are over two feet long.
- Are fitted with snaphooks.
Self-retracting lifelines have a drum-wound line allowing a wider range of movement.
- A braking mechanism inside the casing quickly stops a fall.
- They lifelines are also fitted with snaphooks, which must be securely locked into place.
When your job requires some mobility, a "Fixed Lifeline" should be used.
There are two types:
"Horizontal Lifelines" stretch across a work surface from one point to another.
"Vertical Lifelines" hang from an independent anchor point.
- This allows you to safely climb ladders.
- Connection devices used with these lifelines must be equipped with a locking mechanism (they grab the lifeline during a fall).
"Bosun's Chairs" are often used with vertical lifelines.
- They are used when someone is working off the side of a structure.
- Two independent lifelines are needed (one for the chair, one for you).
Retracting lifelines require special caution.
- Getting more than four feet away from the anchor point risks a "Swing Fall" (swinging back toward the anchor point).
With any lifeline, anchor points must always be secure.
- During a fall your body weight creates significant force.
- Anchor points should support 5,000 pounds per person.
- Fixtures such as pipes and electrical conduits should not be used.
Inspect fall protection equipment before work is begun.
- Look for frayed or broken harness straps.
- Ensure that the D-ring is securely attached, and not bent out of shape.
- Inspect for tears or missing stitches on harnesses.