Without a properly worn personal fall arrest system, a fall from any height can be extremely painful or fatal. Statistics reported by federal agencies show that falls continue to be the leading cause of death among construction workers. You can prevent falls from heights by making sure you take the following steps:
1) understand the fall protection requirements for the task,
2) know the kinds of fall protection that is available,
3) know how each component of the fall protection system used works, and
4) know without a doubt where you can safely tie off.
PREVENT FALLS BEFORE YOU START TO WORK. When it comes to your job requiring you to work at heights, it’s up to you to ensure that you are protected from a fall that could be deadly. Even though it may seem like a waste of time to install a guardrail or cover a hole sometimes, the effort is worth it if it prevents you from falling to your death.
CONSIDER THESE SAFE WORK PRACTICES before you climb up onto an elevated surface to work:
☞ Get the training you need. If your work exposes you to a fall hazard, make sure you’ve received fall-protection training before you climb up to your work area. If you have not been trained, notify your supervisor.
☞ Inspect every component of your fall arrest system for broken, cracked, frayed, or defective parts. Never use any damaged or defective parts. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.
☞ Never work on a temporary work surface or scaffold covered with mud, ice, snow, debris, or other slippery materials.
☞ Do not work on temporary work surfaces during high winds or in stormy conditions.
☞ Ensure you are protected by a guardrail system, safety net system, or a personal fall arrest system every time you are working at heights.
☞ It’s not just falling that kills workers. If you are working below a working level, don’t, but always wear your hard hat if you have to. Falling objects, even relatively small ones, can cause fatal struck-by injuries.