Training Workers To Work At Heights Safely
It doesn’t matter whether workers work at heights daily or just occasionally; their safety must be a top priority. A fall from a ladder or scaffold can cause major injuries, even if the height perceived as not being dangerous.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration decrees workplaces must have fall protection at an elevation of at least 4 feet, shipyards at 5 feet, and construction at 6 feet. In addition, a fall protection system must be in place when working over dangerous equipment. By following these tips, you can make sure your employees can protect themselves every time they might work at an elevation.
Assess the Risks
Employers and self-employed contractors are legally required to evaluate the risks before work begins. The work needs to be planned, so that everyone involved can do it safely. Put in place measures based on the risk assessment, such as safety nets or double guardrails. A safety plan, supervision, and conduct of work at height must be in place.
Using guardrails is a simple and effective method of protecting workers at heights. Railings are a passive safety barrier since they do not require any training. OSHA standards can be easily met and workers are protected with railings. There are many types of temporary and permanent railing systems, but they all have the same purpose: to keep people safe while working at a height.
Choose the Proper Personal Fall Protection Equipment
Selecting the right personal fall protection equipment is essential if you plan on providing the appropriate equipment for all workers. It’s important to understand the features of your fall arrest system so that you choose the right one. If you have used a full-body harness in the past, you should not hesitate to purchase another that meets ANSI standards. Fitting harnesses properly requires your workers to adjust them to their body proportions. Assessing your working conditions and the job description will allow you to provide your employees with any protection they require.
Analyze the Fall Distance
At construction sites, it is not unusual to find maintenance workers who have 6’ lanyards with deceleration devices but are working at a height of 12’. When assessing height, you need to compare its distance from the ground with the lanyard’s length. You must also consider your body length below the D-ring and any sagging in your harness and anchors.
Choose a Stable Anchor Point
The anchor points must be able to support not only the worker’s weight but also 5000 pounds per person. When one strong gust of wind strikes an unreliable tree or beam, the whole system can collapse. A proper anchor point must be documented and/or approved by an engineer or inspector.
Find the Best Fall Protection for Working at Heights
For ladders, scaffolds, and when workers must perform elevated tasks, OSHA requires workers to wear fall protection. A scaffold with a safety railing may be necessary if they are higher up. Make sure there are horizontal lifelines available to prevent falls on lower floors, like the ground floor or second floor.
Understanding which elevation system a project requires is crucial. A ladder can limit a worker’s movement and pose a danger. Scaffolding can make a worker more productive when at a height. Finally, aerial lifts can reach high places.
Correctly Use Ladders
The construction industry regularly violates safety standards regarding ladder protection. There are several ladder-related incidents that can be dangerous for those around the ladder, such as falling from the ladder, toppling over, and tip-overs.
Ladder rails should be parallel to the structure they support, with both footpads mounted on a stable surface. Use a barrier to redirect workers and equipment if you are using a ladder in an active area. Always block off a door if you place the ladder in front of one. Be sure to use a ladder safety gate or offset if you plan to use a fixed ladder.
Ensure Proper Training for All Employees
Proper training of employees is the key to ensuring their safety at heights. It’s important for employers to train their workers about fall-related hazards and how to minimize them. Not only must training be completed by law, but it is also far too easy for an individual who does not possess the proper training to make a mistake and cause confusion.
There is specialized training designed to ensure a competent level of competence in remaining safe at height. It can include emergency ladder rescue, harness inspections, and tower access, among others. Remind workers to check their harnesses and lanyards to ensure they’re stable and can support their weight.
All Workers Can Stay Safe
Safe work environments are essential, and the right policies and procedures should be in place for working at heights. Fall protection requirements should be determined for each situation. Identify what safety standards apply to the work and create a safety plan to ensure all workers are protected.