When you’re working in an environment with cranes, pulleys, and high platforms, there’s always a risk of suffering a fall. According to OSHA and MSHA, ineffective or the nonexistence of fall protection is their most cited violation every year.
When a worker suffers a fall, not only do they put their lives at risk but it can disrupt workflow. No one wants to go on an unsafe platform immediately after someone else was injured on it.
Fall arrest safety systems are there to catch you and prevent an accident. Here are 8 critical tips for setting up effective fall arrest systems in Kansas City.
1. The Four-Foot Rule
First, you need to determine where exactly you need to install fall arrest equipment. OSHA regulations have laid out specific standards for different types of industries.
For general industry workplaces, protection must exist for heights of over four feet. In shipyards, that height increases to five feet.
Construction sites need fall arrest systems for heights over six feet, and longshore operations need them for anything over eight feet.
The close proximity rule, also known as the four-foot rule, states that anyone working within four feet of another person that requires a higher level of protection must wear the same level of protection. As such, these arrest systems are in place for everyone’s safety.
2. Identify Potential Hazards
Fall protection begins with identifying anything or anywhere in the workplace that could be a hazard.
Are there any floor openings in an area where employees are carrying heavy loads? If shelving units are used, how high up do they go?
If a worker needs to climb up to a shelf more than a few feet off the ground, then they need some kind of protection. You never know if a loose box is going to knock them off a ladder or a platform.
3. Eliminate Hazard if Possible
Once you’ve identified hazards, you have to decide whether they can be eliminated completely or not.
For example, covering a floor opening with a non-grated covering could prevent thinner objects from lodging into it. With a crane, your fall prevention could be an added safety feature for hooking workers up to near the equipment.
However, elimination is not always an option, such as when working from great heights. In those cases, you need to use preventative measures.
A restraint system prevents a worker from falling, or you could use a connecting device and a body-harness for more controlled protection.
4. Decide What Type of System to Use
The type of fall arrest safety systems you install will depend on the type of job and its location.
A mobile fall arrest system is a great option for when you’re maintaining aircraft, railyards, industrial equipment, or heavy machinery. You can adjust the height, attach it to a truck, and move it around with ease.
Workers are strapped to the top of the device, so it can catch them if they slip and fall.
Alternately, you can have fall arrest equipment installed beside the ceiling beams of your warehouse.
These types of systems are meant to provide a safety zone for workers up high and can support multiple people at once.
5. Anchor Your System
An important part of a fall arrest system is securing someone to it well.
Anchorage refers to something you attach a lifeline to, like a structural steel member or a concrete beam. If you’re indoors, you’ll likely connect a worker to a static object, while a mobile fall arrest system will act as the anchor.
In order to have the best protection and a controlled fall, you’ll want your worker hooked up to it with a body harness. A body harness distributes force evenly, preventing damage from the straps.
6. Use a Connecting Device
The type of connecting device you choose for your fall arrest system can make a difference. The two you’ll typically see are wire rope systems and rigid rail systems.
A wire rope has some initial sag to it. You’ll need to take into account some distance for it to work, and the resulting stop may be jarring to the worker.
A rigid rail allows for quicker falls, which may work better in your work environment.
7. Additional Fall Protection
Fall arrest equipment should always be supplemented with essential fall protection, such as guardrails, toe boards, and proper scaffolding.
Guardrails should surround any platform a worker will be spending time on, and they need to be at least 42 inches high.
Toeboards prevent your feet and tools from slipping off the sides of a working area. They should be at least four inches high and secured into place.
Proper scaffolding should come with both of the above. Employees should also be tied to an anchor point if the scaffolding is suspended.
8. Train Your Employees Well
Training your employees is a necessary part of work safety, and the same goes for avoiding fall hazards. Without adequate training, they might not know how to utilize the available fall arrest systems.
Workplace safety education should include identifying fall hazards, methods of protection, proper use of arrest systems, and OSHA standards. This training should be repeated as needed, such as on an annual basis.
While some employers wait until an incident has occurred to retrain, you would then have to deal with an injured employee. Better to get it out of the way before that happens.
Protecting your workers from a dangerous fall should be a priority as a site manager. Proper training and fall arrest safety systems could be the difference between a safe work environment and a lawsuit.
One thing to keep in mind for providing a safe work environment is using top-of-the-line equipment. We provide top-rated crane services in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can help your business.