Regardless of the frequency of you or your employees working from heights, it’s crucial that you put much importance and attention on safety measures. Why?
All it takes is just one simple mistake in the way routine works from heights are performed for a potentially fatal fall to happen. And whether it’s one fatality or several, a fatality is a very serious matter regardless of the number.
Prevention is always better than cure and it’s no different when it comes to workplace safety when working from heights. The following safety measures can help you minimize or even prevent falling from height accidents in the workplace.
No amount of safety measures, gear, and equipment will ever make up for ignorance or irresponsible behaviors and attitudes. Giving workers proper and regular training will enable them to optimize the safety measures and equipment you’ll provide to minimize fall-from- height accidents. It can also help put them in their place if they’re a bit arrogant or overconfident because, during training, they’ll have the chance to see for themselves – without having to suffer injuries – the potentially fatal or very serious injuries they may suffer from their current attitudes.
Using rails whenever possible is the easiest way to provide passive protection for your workers who are working from heights. And yes, those workers include those who are careless or arrogant. Because railings surround workers while on platforms, it will take a lot for them to fall off platforms. And by a lot, I mean huge acts of stupidity and arrogance such as intentionally climbing out of railings just for kicks or for bragging rights.
Proper Estimation Of Fall Distance
It can be tempting to dismiss any discussions or thought processes that deal with estimation of fall distances because come on, how difficult can that be? If a work platform is 10 feet high, it follows that the falling distance is 10 feet and therefore, fall protection equipment such as a lanyard must be 10 feet long too.
Wrong! More than just the actual height of the platform, estimating falling distance should take into consideration the worker’s height, the point at which the lanyard is connected to his body, and deployment distance or length if the lanyard has a deceleration device. Why? It’s because all of these will extend the lanyard’s effective length, which can make it effectively longer than the falling height. And if that’s the case, a worker will still hit the ground when he falls despite having safety equipment such as a lanyard attached to him. So when estimating falling distance, you must factor other stuff like what I mentioned above in order to protect workers from falling-related injuries.
Choose The Right Anchor Point
Anchor points for fall protection when working from heights are points from which tie-off equipment such as lifelines and lanyards are connected to in order to keep workers from falling to the ground in case they lose balance and fall of their working platforms. The primary considerations for choosing the right anchor point are stability and strength. In particular, you’ll need to determine the maximum amount of stress or weight an anchor point can bear or carry, which must be about 5,000 pounds per attached person. And most fixtures aren’t that strong to handle such stress or weight.
Choosing the wrong anchor points can render the use of tie-off devices useless because what point is a strong lanyard or lifeline when the anchor point will eventually break off during a fall and let the worker tied to it, plunge to the ground?
Whether or not the risks for falling from height accidents are high, you should never neglect or take for granted key safety measures because the potential impacts in terms of injuries can be very serious to the point that it may cause permanent disability or death to your workers. There’s no such thing as too few or too many debilitating or fatal injuries from falls. Any debilitating or fatal fall is one fall from height accident too many. The only acceptable number for such is zero. And safety measures help you minimize the incidents and impacts of such to your workers and your company.