Slips, trips, and falls have been proven to be the leading causes of workplace injuries but they are also the most preventable workplace accidents in almost every industry. The latest statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, released in 2011, puts the number of injured workers due to fall accidents at 42,000. Overall, fall injuries make up about 17% of the total workplace injuries that resulted to “time-loss” at work.
Most of the fall accidents resulting from same level slips and trips account for 66% of the total number of fall accidents, while 34% are falls that occur from a height such as scaffolding, ladders, and rooftops.
Simple steps can be taken to prevent slips and trips. Read our previous blog post for tips in preventing workplace slips, trips and falls.
Fall prevention from heights require more than common sense. In construction, mining, oil, and other industries, fall protection includes the use of workplace safety equipment such as harnesses, lanyards, and body belts.
Chest harnesses are recommended for limited fall hazards only. It is usually used for rescue or retrieval of personnel from a confined space like tanks or large bins.
Full-body harnesses are best used for free fall hazards. Workers working at great heights should suit-up with a full-body harness instead of a chest harness or a body belt.
Rope lanyards have shock-absorption features that are best for vertical free fall hazards. Its elastic properties are designed to dissipate the force of a fall away from the worker’s body.
Web lanyards or non-shock absorbing lanyards are only recommended for fall hazards that are less than 2 ft.
There are 2 types of body belts – the single and the double D-ring belt. Both are recommended only for restraint and proper positioning and should not be used when fall hazards exists.
Fall Protection Program Checklist
Conduct regular inspections of your fall protection gear. This is to make sure that the equipment is in working condition with no tears on the belts, or malfunctioning anchors that could be fatal for workers using the equipment. Always check each component of the fall protection system before use. Also, keep a regularly updated record of inspection. This will serve as a reference and proof that the equipment is maintained properly.
Replace harness, belts and other components of your fall protection system if worn or defective. Consult with the manufacturer if you have questions about the life-span of the equipment. Make sure every replaced component is reflected on the inspection record.
Energy Absorption Feature
Ensure that your fall arrest or fall protection system has energy absorption capacity to cushion the worker’s body against the sudden force of a free fall. Non-shock absorbing lanyards may cause trauma to a worker’s body especially from a fall at a greater height.
Read the manual. Know exactly the uses and limitations of each fall protection equipment. This includes instructions for adjustment, fit, application, inspection, and care. Read the hazard warnings as well as the recommendations.
Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z259
The non-profit organization, CSA, released the Z259 fall protection standards to guide workplace safety engineers on the right equipment for their workers. Choose the fall prevention system that meet or exceeds these recommendations to be sure of quality and reliability.
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