Fall Protection – Crucial On Job Sites

Falls at construction sites top the list of fatalities in the construction industry. Every year, one out of three construction-related deaths are caused by falls. In recent years, fall fatalities have increased even though safety regulations exist and fall prevention methods are commonly available.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), preliminary construction fatality data from 2007 show that approximately 442 fatalities resulted from falls of all causes. Workers falling from rooftops are a major concern—in 2007, more falls resulting in death occurred in falls from roofs. In a report by the BLS, 686 workers died from rooftop falls from 2003 to 2007.

The OSHA Construction Standard, listed as 29 CFR Part 1926, contains many subparts. Specifically, regarding fall prevention, Personal Protective Equipment (including 1926.104—Safety Belts, Lifelines, and Lanyards, and 1926.105—Safety Nets) is discussed in subpart E and Fall Protection is discussed in subpart M of the OSHA Standard. Information on the OSHA Construction Standard can be found at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owastand.display_standard_group?p_toc_level=1&p_part_number=1926

Fall protection equipment is important for worker safety. A personal fall arrest system consists of three key components: anchorage, body wear and a connecting device. All three must be in place and properly used to provide maximum worker protection.

Anchorage -Anchorage is an accessible location typically above the worker that is both at a safe distance above obstacles directly below the work area and is also able to support up to 5,000 lbs. per worker. An example of an anchorage is an I-beam. An anchorage connector is either a permanent or temporary device attached to an anchorage location. An example of a permanent anchorage connector is a D-bolt anchor; examples of temporary devices are a cross-arm strap, choker and beam anchor.

Body Wear –A full-body harness is an approved safety device worn to protect and/or prevent falls and injury. A body-belt is a safety device worn around the waist to assist is stabilizing/positioning only and to also assist in restraining a worker from reaching a location where a fall could occur. They are not an approved/acceptable safety device for fall protection.

Connecting Devices- Shock-absorbing lanyards and self-retracting lifelines are connecting safety devices that are, in turn, attached to an anchorage/anchorage connector and are then connected to the worker’s full-body harness. A vertical lifeline and rope grab is a compact device that, when connected accordingly to an anchorage and then connected to a worker’s full-body harness, provides continuous fall protection.

Increased funding for OSHA

The President’s new 2010 fiscal year budget includes new resources to enhance worker safety. The increased resources are planned to strengthen the enforcement of standards. Also included in the budget are funds for whistleblower protection, ensuring the safety and health of workers as well as increased funding for OSHA.

For additional information visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/fy2010_new_era/department_of_labor.pdf

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