A fall hazard is anything at your worksite that could cause you to lose your balance or lose bodily support and result in a fall. The attached OSHA report shows 6 falls, resulting in death in a 24 hour period.
You are at risk any time you are working at heights of four or more feet. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at six feet in the construction industry. A hole is defined as 2” or more that requires a hole cover.
OSHA’s examples of incidents that would be recorded as falls include the following:
- Falls from elevation or ground level to lower levels (leading cause of fatalities in construction)
- Falls through existing floor or roof openings
- Falls through the floor or roof surface
- Fall on same level (one of the leading causes of injuries)
- Jumps from structures and equipment
Types of falls causing fatalities include:
- Falls from roofs (33%)
- Falls from scaffolding or staging (18%)
- Falls from ladders (16%)
What Are The Major Types Of Fall Hazards?
Working conditions that contribute to fall hazards:
- Unprotected roof edges, roof/floor openings, structural steel and leading edges
- Unsafe portable ladders
How Can I Protect Myself From Fall Hazards?
Protect yourself from fall hazards in the following ways:
- Use fall protection equipment
- Use ladder safely
- Get training
Fall Protection Equipment
There are three acceptable methods of protecting workers using fall protection equipment:
- Personal fall arrest systems – work to break your fall
- Guardrail systems – stop you from falling in the first place
- Safety net systems – catch you and break your fall
According to OSHA requirements,
If your employer uses guardrails:
- Toprails must be at least ¼ inch thick to prevent cuts and lacerations; they must be between
39 and 45 inches from the working surface;
- If wire rope is used, it must be flagged at least every six feet with highly visible materials;
- Midrails, screens, or mesh must be installed when there are no walls at least 21 inches high;
- There can be no openings more than 19 inches;
- The toprail must withstand at least 200 lbs. of force; the midrail must withstand 150 lbs. of force;
- The system must be smooth enough to protect workers from cuts and getting their clothes snagged by the rail;
- If guardrails are used around holes at points of access, like a ladderway, a gate must be used to prevent someone from falling through the hole, or be offset so that a person cannot walk directly into the hole.
Keep in mind the following reminders about personal fall arrest systems:
- A personal fall arrest system is made up of an Anchorage, connecting device, and a full-Body harness. The Connecting device may be a lanyard with snaphooks, or a self-retracting lifeline( Anchorage, Body Harness Connection=ABC’s of fall protection). A
lanyard could also include a deceleration device. Make sure you are using components from the same manufacturer to ensure that the system works as it should. If not, any substitution or change must be elevated or tested by a competent person to ensure that it meets the standard.
- Body belts cannot be used for fall arresting service. However, a body belt is allowed as part of a positioning system. A positioning system is one way to prevent falls from occurring. It involves equipment for keeping your body in a position where you are not able to fall. For all situations where you could actually fall, you need to wear a full-body harness.
- Your personal fall arrest system must be inspected for damage each time before you wear it. [If there are defects, or if someone has taken a fall using the equipment, it must be removed from service.]
- The attachment location of the body harness must be in the center of your back, hear the shoulder level or above your head.
- Vertical lifelines or lanyards must have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 lbs., and be protected against being cut or abraded.
- Each worker must be attached to a separate vertical lifeline.
- The webbing, lanyard, and harness must be made of synthetic fibers.
- An anchorage for workers’ personal fall arrest equipment must be independent of any anchorage used to support or suspend platforms, and it must be able to support at least 5,000 lbs. per worker attached to it.
- Connectors must be made from steel or equivalent materials, with a corrosion-resistant finish and the edges must be smooth.
- D-rings and snaphooks must have a minimum tensil strength of 5,000 lbs.
- Snaphooks must be locking-type and designed to prevent the snaphook from opening and slipping off the connector.
- Snaphooks cannot be directly connected to the webbing, rope or wire, to each other, to a D-ring to which another snaphook or other connector is attached, to a horizontal lifeline, or to any other object that could cause the snaphook to open.
Ways that you may prevent a fall from a ladder include:
- Choose the right ladder for the job.
- Tie the top and bottom of the ladder to fixed points when necessary.
- Don’t carry tools or other materials in-hand while climbing the ladder.
- Have a coworker hold ladder
- Face ladder on ascent and descent
- Set up ladder on a stable surface
For additional information visit OSHA :