Fall protection is critical. That’s a fact. We all know it and that’s primarily why Malta Dynamics provides high-quality systems to safeguard your workers. However, there are certain factors – out of our control – that can complicate fall protection.
One of the most complicated factors is bad weather.
I realize that many of our customers are working in frigid temperatures that can significantly impact safety at height. That’s why, this month, I wanted to focus on the importance of using fall protection systems in cold conditions, adverse weather and environments with poor visibility.
Safeguarding Your Workers in Bad Weather
While you can’t always predict the weather, there are some precautions you can take to further safeguard your staff in dangerous conditions:
- Inspect the Work Environment: The temps may be well above freezing by midday, but if your workers are jumping right into work first thing in the morning, you need to consider overnight temperatures and potential freezing in work spaces. Before any work begins, visually inspect the work environment to pinpoint potential hazards, such as ice formations and saturated structures.
- Plan Around the Forecast: Actively check weather forecasts to determine if working in harsh conditions is even a possibility. When you estimate the severity of working conditions, you gain additional time to plan safety measures or even suspend work if necessary.
- Prepare Your Workers: Not only are your workers at risk for falls at heights when bad weather exists, they are also at risk for health problems if they are not properly dressed or prepared. Ensure that each staff member has specialized equipment for cold environments. Allow regular breaks to refuel and warm when the temperatures are frigid. Offer hot drinks throughout the day to keep your workers comfortable.
- Implement Equipment Checklists: It’s standard for each worker on a jobsite to inspect equipment prior to use. However, all personal protective equipment and fall protection equipment should be checked and double checked during bad weather. Depending upon where you are storing this equipment, adverse weather can affect the stability of the equipment. Some components can freeze while exposure to rain water may even cause corrosion if not properly stored.
- Have a Rescue Plan in Place: In the event of an emergency, you need to have a rescue plan in place. Make sure that your personnel know the procedures for rescues and take the time to offer refresher courses to outline your rescue plan.
The Additional Risks
It’s not just cold weather that complicates safety at height. You and your workers could be dealing with high winds, reduced daylight and poor visibility that presents a variety of safety risks.
Let’s take a look at the stats.
OSHA reported that the top workplace safety violation for 2018 was fall protection, with 7,270 citations. In fact, the report estimated nearly 40% of construction worker fatalities in the United States in 2017 were caused by falls.
Falls are not only harmful for your employees, but also costly for your business. While there are many safety factors that can attribute to a fall, we can’t look past the fact that bad weather contributes to these numbers.
You can’t always predict the weather, but you can add safety precautions to your jobsite just in case your workers are battling conditions that are treacherous. Using these tips, you can significantly enhance the working conditions and reduce the risk of falls at height.