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Why is fall protection such a big issue for OSHA?

Falls are the number one cause for injuries and deaths each year in the workforce, so it’s no wonder OSHA pays such close attention to fall protection and precaution practices on the jobsite.

OSHA has mandated that employers must provide a workspace that has been properly assessed for fall hazards and equip their employees with the appropriate fall protection gear and training in order to be able to navigate the jobsite safely.

The Hierarchy of Fall Protection

In the fall protection business, we have developed a system to help navigate the protocol for assessing jobsites.. The order goes as follows: Hazard elimination, passive fall protection, fall restraint, fall arrest, and administrative controls.

Hazard Elimination:

The most preferred solution to a fall hazard. When assessing a fall hazard, if the hazard can be completely avoided and eliminated, the competent person should remove the hazard before allowing any employees to begin work.


Passive Fall Protection:

This second most preferred form of fall protection includes the use of physical barriers from a fall hazard. The use of guardrail around holes or unprotected edges allows the worker to operate safely and eliminates the probability of a fall.

Fall Restraint:

In this method of fall protection, the fall hazard cannot be eliminated or avoided, so the worker wears equipment that limits their movement to stop them from reaching the edge or fall hazard. They can operate freely around the jobsite, but if they approach the edge, their harness and lifeline will limit their mobility and stop them from reaching the hazard to eliminate the fall potential.


Fall Arrest:

When the fall hazard cannot be avoided or eliminated, the worker wears a personal fall arrest system that consists of a full body harness, PPE, a lifeline, and an anchorage system. In this method of fall protection, if a fall occurs it is arrested and stops the worker from reaching the ground. Proper training for employees is absolutely essential in this method because once a fall has been arrested, a swift and planned rescue is required before the worker in distress is fully rescued.

Administrative Controls:

When the fall cannot be avoided, and proper anchorage or a personal fall arrest system cannot be used, administrative controls are the practices or procedures that are meant to increase a worker’s awareness of a fall hazard. Administrative controls are the least preferred method of fall protection, so it is important to try to employ one of the first four before resorting to this solution.

Fall Protection Resources

At Malta Dynamics, we are dedicated to providing resources for you to use to keep your team safe. Jobsite analysis, rescue planning, and protection guides are some of the first steps in making sure that you can accurately provide the appropriate fall protection supplies for your team. After that, employees need to be trained and educated on how to properly inspect, use, and maintain their equipment before they step foot on the jobsite. 

We have developed a fully downloadable free library of safety resources for you and your team to use. From customizable guides to instructions and tips specifically tailored for our products, we have got you covered. Check out our library to download your free copy of our fall protection guide, hazard assessment, rescue plan, and much more.

OSHA Regulations for Fall Protection Training

1926.503(a) – “Training Program.”

1926.503(a)(1)

The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.

1926.503(a)(2)

The employer shall assure that each employee has been trained, as necessary, by a competent person qualified in the following areas:

1926.503(a)(2)(i)

The nature of fall hazards in the work area;

1926.503(a)(2)(ii)

The correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling, and inspecting the fall protection systems to be used; 

1926.503(a)(2)(iii)

The use and operation of guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, safety net systems, warning line systems, safety monitoring systems, controlled access zones, and other protection to be used;

1926.503(a)(2)(iv)

The role of each employee in the safety monitoring system when this system is used;

1926.503(a)(2)(v)

The limitations on the use of mechanical equipment during the performance of roofing work on low-sloped roofs; 

1926.503(a)(2)(vi)

The correct procedures for the handling and storage of equipment and materials and the erection of overhead protection; and

1926.503(a)(2)(vii)

The role of employees in fall protection plans;

1926.503(a)(2)(viii)

The standards contained in this subpart.

1926.503(b) – “Certification of training.”

 

1926.503(b)(1)

The employer shall verify compliance with paragraph (a) of this section by preparing a written certification record. The written certification record shall contain the name or other identity of the employee trained, the date(s) of the training, and the signature of the person who conducted the training or the signature of the employer. If the employer relies on training conducted by another employer or completed prior to the effective date of this section, the certification record shall indicate the date the employer determined the prior training was adequate rather than the date of actual training.

1926.503(b)(2)

The latest training certification shall be maintained.

1926.503(c)

“Retraining.” When the employer has reason to believe that any affected employee who has already been trained does not have the understanding and skill required by paragraph (a) of this section, the employer shall retrain each such employee. Circumstances where retraining is required include, but are not limited to, situations where:

1926.503(c)(1)

Changes in the workplace render previous training obsolete; or

1926.503(c)(2)

Changes in the types of fall protection systems or equipment to be used render previous training obsolete; or

 1926.503(c)(3)

Inadequacies in an affected employee’s knowledge or use of fall protection systems or equipment indicate that the employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill. 

Note: The following appendices to subpart M of this part serve as non-mandatory guidelines to assist employers in complying with the appropriate requirements of subpart M of this part.

[59 FR 40738, Aug. 9, 1994; 60 FR 5131, Jan. 26, 1995]

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