It's a cold and rainy Friday afternoon. The sun is barely peeking through and you have a job to do. You look up and see nothing but steel and gray skies. You look to your right and see your buddy working feverishly to get the job done. All the while as you look down, you stand mere inches from a 50 foot drop. You think back earlier in the day when your wife/husband told you "I'll see you when you get home". The words that traveled from their mouth to your ears should not be taken lightly. It's a call. A call that you have family, friends and loved ones expecting your presence and a duty to arrive home in the same condition you were in when you left for work.
This year in 2017, we look at the number one killer of construction workers every year- falls. Fatalities caused by falls account for nearly 350 of the 937 construction fatalities recorded in 2015. With these numbers, it's no wonder that this year, as we enter OSHA's National Safety Stand-Down week (May 8th-12th), fall protection is the main focus and number one priority. With statistic after statistic, one can shake their head and wonder why it is that the death rate continues to climb. Between training, engineering controls and PPE, the number of deaths should be at zero. When you really look deeper into this problem, it all starts with the decision a worker will make before they work at heights.
Operating on ladders, scaffolds and roofs as well as operating in aerial and scissor lift equipment all present their own unique challenges for complying with OSHA fall protection regulations. You have to ask yourself some questions; questions that can help you move forward to complete your job not only on time, but safely.
1. Is your fall protection a complete system?
a. A- Anchor point. Is your anchor point and substrate rated a minimum 5,000 LBS for fall arrest?
b. B- Body wear, such as a full body harness. Are you past the weight limit and is it properly fitted?
c. C- Connecting points, like lanyards and SRL's. Are they inspected and not previously exposed to falls? Do you have proper fall clearance for a shock absorbing lanyard?
d. D-Deceleration device. Does your fall protection system have the capabilities to bring your MAF (maximum applied force) under the OSHA allowable 1,800 LBS?
2. Operating Environment
a. Is it rainy, icy or windy?
b. Does your scaffold have too big of gaps between each board?
c. Has housekeeping been an important part of your day?
a. Have you been trained by a competent person to know the regulations?
b. Has your gear been inspected visually before any use and inspected by a competent person?
c. Does your company have a secure rescue plan in the event of a fall?
Asking these types of questions could be the beginning of a safe, awesome day. Knowing that you have everything covered and knowing you are 100% good to go can give you the confidence, clarity and assurance you need in order to not only punch in and punch out but to get home "4 the Right Reasons". Family, friends, co-workers and even your pet wait for you every day. If you ask these questions, one thing you CAN be sure of is that you will not become a statistic, but rather a great example on how to work safely at heights.