Many would think that with the OSHA regulations for fall protection, the number of injuries, falls and deaths would be decreasing. To the contrary, OSHA reported that falls increased in the last several years. Often, construction sites have fall protection systems in place; however, the workers are not properly trained on how to use it. Another reason that the number of falls are increasing is because the fall protection systems in place are not properly installed. The only way to ensure that tragic accidents and falls do not happen is for construction worksite to follow the Fall Protection Regulations Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set out.
Under OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926.501-503, fall systems can be provided through the several systems. The guardrail system consist of a top rail located 42 inches above the floor. A mid rail also needs to be installed mid-way between the top rail and the floor. The toe board must be 3 ½ inches high. Screens and mesh may be used to replace the mid-rail as long as they extend from the top rail to the floor.
Another system is the personal fall arrest system. This can be a body harness, lanyard, lifeline, connector, and an anchorage point capable of supporting at least 5000 pounds. The personal fall arrest system needs to be inspected before each use.
The positioning device system is a body harness that allows someone to work on a vertical surface such as a wall, with both hands free.
Safety monitoring system is having a trained person fall protection equipment monitoring others as they work on an elevated surface and warn them of any fall hazard.
Another type of fall protection is the warning line system, which consists of line or ropes installed around the work area on the roof and this is only allowed on low pitched roofs. The lines or ropes act as a barrier to prevent those working on the roof from approaching the edges and must be on all sides and not less than 6 feet from the edge of the roof. It also must be used in conjunction with another fall protection system, typically the safety monitoring system.
It is critical to put an OSHA compliant fall protection system in place at the worksite to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. Often times, worksites have fall protection, but they are often substandard, inadequate and do not provide a safe jobsite. As a result, workers fall and sustain catastrophic injuries. Employers may say there is fall protection system in place, but that’s not the end of the story. The fall protection system may be out of date or not properly installed. Even worse, workers are not properly trained to use the fall protection system despite the fact that there is one. Just because an employer has a fall protection system does not mean it is not at fault for a worker’s fall and injuries.