In the United States Construction industry, falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. An average of between 150-200 workers each year are killed and more than 100,000 injuries are the result of falls at construction sites. Accidental falls are complex events resulting from either equipment-related or human issues. Therefore, the standards for protection deal with both matters for success in preventing fall hazards. Fall protection systems should be carefully designed for appropriate work situations. Proper installation of safety systems, safe work procedures, training and supervision are necessary to ensure workers’ security, as well as the required Personal Protective Equipment.
Listed is a short glossary of fall prevention equipment that is appropriate for most endeavors:
- Anchorage – Secure point of attachment for lanyards, lifelines or deceleration devices.
- Body Harness – Straps secured about the person that distribute fall-arrest forces over thighs, pelvis, waist, chest and shoulders, which is attached to other parts of fall-arrest system.
- Deceleration Device – Any mechanism: rope, grab, forms of lanyards, auto retracting lanyards that dissipate a substantial amount of energy during fall arrest.
- Lanyard – Flexible line of rope or strap that has connectors to a deceleration device, lifeline, or anchorage.
Along with the proper use of fall-arrest devices, ladder safety is of prime importance. Some tips from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission include:
- Always make sure weight does not exceed the maximum load, consider user weight plus material.
- Be sure the ladder is the proper length: 3 feet minimum extending over working surface or roofline.
- Use wooden or fiberglass ladders in the vicinity of power lines or electric equipment.
- Don’t place ladder in front of door that is not guarded, blocked, or locked.
- Follow instruction labels on ladders.
- Don’t stand on the three top rungs of ladder.
- Set the ladder up at a 75° angle.
- Be sure locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.