Fall protection can add up to be expensive for employers. However, potential fines and citations can prove to be far more costly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) consistently cites more companies for fall protection violations than any other issues.
For example, let’s say you have a crew of 5 workers and you’re a roofing contractor. You will spend some time preparing all of the OSHA-required planning and documentation. Once you’ve finished the hazard assessment, you will have identified the correct gear. Please download your free hazard assessment form from Malta Dynamics here.
It is then determined you need full-body harnesses, 50’ vertical lifelines, and reusable nail-in anchors. The company purchases equipment for all 5 of your crew, as well as another style of anchor and a 50’ self-retracting lifeline. You spend some money on training your crew and leaders, and you calculate that with time and purchases, the company has invested $2,500 total in fall protection.
Now, if you DON’T invest this time and money into safety, the cost can increase significantly. You are gambling with federal regulations, as well as your workers’ safety. If OSHA swings by, or you have a worker take a fall, you now have a handful of willful violations, and work can stop completely if the OSHA inspector deems it necessary. In this situation, you would be paying a lot more than the amount to outfit and educate your crew.
OSHA standard 1926.501 explains the requirements for employers to provide fall protection to employees.
Another good resource from OSHA is “How to Protect Workers from a Fall.” The article states, “There are a number of ways employers can protect workers from falls, including through the use of conventional means such as guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall protection systems, the adoption of safe work practices, and the provision of appropriate training. The use of warning lines, designated areas, control zones and similar systems are permitted by OSHA in some situations and can provide protection by limiting the number of workers exposed.” More information on this can be found here.
Here are a few statistics to take into consideration when weighing the cost of fall protection for your employees.
OSHA’s maximum penalty amounts for personal fall protection are as follows:
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