Safety at Height–Industrial Fall Protection

Horizon Solutions has been outfitting people when they’re exposed to fall hazards at work for over twenty years. In honor of National Safety Month (observed annually in June) it seemed like the perfect time to discuss industrial fall protection.

In fiscal 2015 OSHA named Fall Protection as the number one most frequently cited standard.

Fall protection equipment is used in the proactive effort to prevent and avoid injury when falling from an elevated position (above ground or the base surface). Fall protection systems and equipment are required and regulated by the Federal Government – specifically, the United States Department of Labor, with workplace safety being overseen and reviewed by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

OSHA defines industrial fall protection requirements as “any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.” Keep in mind that the employer is responsible for the safety of sub-contractors on his/her property.

Industrial Fall Protection Systems include (but are not limited to):

  • Passive Fall Restraint – Passive systems do not require special equipment or active participation from the worker
    • In this case, a passive system, such as guard rails, safety flag lines or catch platforms could be installed around the perimeter of the work area
  • Safety Net Systems are an alternate solution to protect workers at height
  • Active fall protection systems consist of the A, B, C and R of a fall protection program
    • Anchors can be permanent or temporary in many forms including, horizontal lifelines, and conventional beam and trolley systems that can be attached to the existing structure
    • Body wear, is the harness that is designed and suited to the application
    • Connecting devices, such as shock absorbing lanyards or Self Retracting Lifelines
    • The R is the most commonly overlooked piece of this system — you must have a rescue plan and system in place

Other options include:

  • Sky lifts
  • Bucket lifts
  • Scissor lifts
  • JLG extension lifts

As of January 1, 2015, OSHA Standard, 29 CFR Subpart 1904.39, Reporting Fatality, Injury and Illness Information to the Government requires covered employers to report work-related fatalities to OSHA within eight hours of learning of the event, and report all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye to OSHA within 24 hours of learning of the event.

Industrial Fall Protection Matters!

A few recent fall fatalities and incidents cited by OSHA include…

  • 4/23/16 Lubbock, TX – Worker replacing pipe and sprinkler head killed in fall
  • 4/21/16 New York, NY – Worker struck and killed by falling scaffold plank
  • 4/21/16 Houston, TX – Worker on apartment roof died after being struck by lightning and falling off building
  • 4/20/16 Jersey City, NJ – Worker killed in fall down elevator shaft
  • 4/18/16 Middle Village, NY – Worker killed in fall from roof
  • 4/13/16 LeHigh Acres, FL – Worker died after falling into cement mixer
  • 4/12/16 Danville, VA – Worker died after falling into vat of boiling water and oil
  • And the list goes on and on…

Making a living shouldn’t have to cost you your life. Workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are preventable. Safe jobs happen because employers make the choice to fulfill their responsibilities and protect their workers.

- Dr. David Michaels Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

#Safe4Life   #IndustrialFallProtection

I’m wondering what other people think about this post. Tell me about your experience in the comments below.


About the author

Jim Lanz
Jim Lanz

Jim supports our sales team and helps our customers achieve a safe, healthy, and accident-free work environment in his role of Safety Specialist at Horizon Solutions. Jim has over 15 years experience in the field of safety which includes extensive OSHA compliance experience and executing safety programs for manufacturing facilities. Jim is an Authorized OSHA Outreach Instructor, and facilitates safety training classes that involve custom curriculum that meets the specific needs of our customers.