Tag Archives: Fall Safety


Both employers and employees must know all the precautions to protect themselves against potentially hazardous conditions in grain handling facilities.  Grain handling facilities are those such as grain elevators, feed mills, flour and rice mills, dry corn mills, dust palletizing plants, soybean flaking operations, and the dry grinding operations of soycake.  Many safety and health hazards are associated with grain handling operations.  Suffocation and falls are the two leading causes of death at grain handling facilities.  Other risk factors are potential flash fires and explosions as a result of excessive amounts of airborne grain dust, and electrocutions and injuries from improperly guarded machinery.  OSHA issued the grain handling facilities standard (29CFR 1910.272) to reduce injuries and deaths in the grain handling industry.  This standard requires workers to be trained in the identification and control of grain handling hazards.  Health and respiratory hazards are also presented by exposures to grain dust and airborne contaminants. 

The most important facet of preventing health issues and injury risks in all industrial activities is proper training.  Prior to new employees starting work, when changes occur in assignments, or if employees are exposed to new or unfamiliar hazards – the proper training must be applied.  Also, when workers are assigned to infrequent, special, or suspected hazardous tasks (such as bin entry or handling toxic or flammable substances), they must have been trained correctly.  Specific procedures included are performing housekeeping, hot work, lockout/tagout, and preventative maintenance.  Grain handling facilities are required to implement a hot work permit system.  This type of work includes electric or gas welding, cutting, grinding, brazing, or any similar activity that produces a flame or spark.  The permit guarantees that the employer and operating personnel are aware that hot work is being performed and that accurate safety precautions have been taken.

 We have talked about confined spaces in previous articles.  In grain handling, there will be a necessity to enter silos, bins, and tanks.  As mentioned before, atmospheric testing in confined spaces is mandatory.  These tests must be conducted before entry (by experts) and continued until work is finished.  Ventilation, supplemented by the use of appropriate air supplied respirators, shall be provided when: oxygen levels are less than 19.5%. 

At home or work, it seems that housekeeping is extremely vital, especially so in industrial settings.  OSHA standard allows “a maximum accumulation of no more than 1/8 inch of dust in priority housekeeping areas of grain elevators.”  When this amount of grain dust accumulates, steps must be taken immediately for its removal.  All lockout-tagout procedures required by 29 CFR 1910.147 and OSHA standard should be observed when entering grain elevators or silos for maintenance.  If a person enters a bin, silo, or tank from the top, they must wear a full parachute-type body harness with a lifeline.  This holds the body vertical and in case of an accident, makes easier removal of the victim through small access hatches.  A well-trained and properly equipped attendant is required to maintain communication with the personnel in the confined area during the whole time, and to provide help when needed. 

Workers in grain handling face serious dangers of suffocation, entanglement, falling, fires, explosions, electrocutions, and injuries from improperly guarded machinery.  These dangers will be eliminated if employers implement a safe grain handling program, train their employees on the safe handling of grain, and both employer and workers carefully follow the procedures to ensure the safe handling of grain.  

As we reported earlier, in an article about the Top Ten OSHA violations and penalties assessed for 2010, Violation of (29 CFR 1910.272) Grain Handling Facilities came in at #9 on the most penalties assessed list.   At least 25 U.S. workers were killed in grain entrapments last year, and there were more grain entrapments in 2010 than in any other year since researchers at Purdue University began collecting data on the subject in 1978.  The following is a list of violations that received citations, many of them classified as serious, in 2010:

  • Failure to train in safety precautions and bin entry procedures;
  • No observer during bin entry;
  • No rescue equipment;
  • Not testing atmosphere in the space to be entered;
  • Failure to have deflagration controls for combustible dust;
  • Walk working surfaces without guarding in place;
  • Failure to safeguard employees from electrical hazards such as broken electrical conduits;
  • Lack of signage and hazard communication procedures;
  • Failure to evaluate work spaces for confined space entry permits;
  • No confined space entry program;
  • Non-entry retrieval system;
  • Lack of personal protective equipment;
  • Lack of electrical training;
  • Lack of combustible dust controls;
  • Failure to train employees in combustible grain dust hazards. 

All workers should have the assurance that these things are not going to happen to them; that their company would purposely do everything possible to guarantee a safe return home after their shift every day.  Let’s hope that 2011 will result in fewer violations and safer, well-informed and properly trained employees.

Source: OSHA, Texas Dept. of Insurance (TDI)


Because slips, trips, and falls are a major source of both home and industrial injuries, there are a few more things we need to present to you today.  Whose fault is it when someone falls?  There is certainly no room anywhere – at home, school, or work – where an intentional prank causes someone to fall.  You know, the old “pull the chair out from behind someone,” trick, where the one sitting winds up on the floor.  As we get older, we realize that a fall can have lasting health effects on people. 

Do you think that people get hurt because they just don’t respect safety regulations and procedures?  Normally this isn’t the case, according to studies.  It is usually a brief moment of inattention that ends in disaster, not a person’s indifference to safety procedures.  If you think about it, inattention can be identified as the root cause of injury in most every category of accident analysis (traffic mishaps, power tool injuries, aggression incidents, etc.).  In regard to slips, trips, and falls, inattention can lead to regrettable events ranging from a simple bruised shin to extremely serious consequences such as concussions, or even death.  Have you heard someone say, “I guess I just wasn’t thinking,” during an accident investigation?  Sometimes we are too wrapped up in a conversation, or thinking about the next job, or a personal problem or activity, that we forget to pay attention to the hazards around us.  From the State Office of Risk Management, Texas, here is an “Inattention Test” that might help:  Do you:

  1. Get bored easily?
  2. Lose track of conversations (having to ask, “What were you saying?” (Yes, I do!)
  3. Suddenly return to reality (after driving past your exit on the freeway)?
  4. Know your job so well you could   “…..do it with your eyes closed?”
  5. Daydream?

These examples and others show potential for inattention.  A person’s state of mind is his/her own personal property, and, of course, cannot be controlled by a boss or the workplace.  As a result, the supervisor must frequently emphasize to the workforce the consequences a loss of focus could cause.  Stay alert and don’t lose sight of what you are doing.  If you get in a hurry because you lost your train of thought, you might start walking too fast, or running, and lose your balance.  Distraction, not watching where you are going, carrying materials that obstruct vision and speed are common elements in many on-the-job injuries.  So, plan, stay alert, and pay attention!  Employees should report any slips, trips, or fall hazards that they identify at work.  Posters displaying fall warnings also should be placed in areas that are frequented.  Training is one of the most important keys to preventing falls at work.  No horseplay should be allowed.  It’s o.k. to have a little fun, but not at the expense of a personal injury and lost time at work. 

Last, but not least, at work or home, the lighting should be good.  Be sure you are aware of the location of light switches, and have a flashlight handy, too.  Proper lighting ensures that employees using stairways or elevators can be safe.  In homes with staircases, you certainly want adequate lighting.  Another tip for home or work: never use a chair as a ladder!  That’s an accident just waiting to happen.  If you go outside, be sure you have shoes that are safe to walk on wet sidewalks or slippery areas.  Older citizens usually pay a higher price after experiencing a fall, such as a broken hip, so any time you see someone who seems to be a little unsteady, offer them your strong arm.  As we said yesterday, do your best to stay upright, and avoid those messy slips, trips, and falls!


Slips, trips, and falls represent the most common cause of workplace injuries, behind  motor vehicle accidents.  Slips, trips, and falls can result in head, back, and neck injuries, as well as broken bones, cuts and bruises.  According to the National Safety Councils’ 2008 injury facts, the average workers’ comp costs for slips, trips, and falls, was $21,500.  So we’re not talking about minor incidents. 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety reports that 60% of falls happen at the same floor level.  The other 40% are falls from heights.  Even the slightest change in elevation surface (1/4” to ½”) can cause a trip or fall.  Caution signs should be placed in obvious areas to avert falls.  Those who work at heights should wear some form of personal fall arrest system – harness, lanyards, tie-off slings, etc. – one that fits the particular job best.  Falls from ladders, roofs, stairs, or jumping to a lower level causes many injuries.  Each of these risks demand different considerations in a fall arrest program.   Many homes have areas with lower-level family rooms, which are hazardous for visitors.  Homeowners should warn them to “watch their step” while visiting.  

Good housekeeping in a business is vital.  If these practices are not enforced, other administrative control measures implemented will never be fully effective.  Safety and housekeeping go hand in hand.  This is extremely true, especially when addressing the serious issue of slips, trips and falls.  If the facility’s housekeeping habits are poor, the result may well be employee injuries, rising insurance costs, and regulatory citations.  If the facilities are noticeably clean and well organized, it is a good sign that its overall safety program is effective as well.  Disorderly work environments can negatively impact the morale of employees who must function in a job site that is dirty, hazardous, and poorly managed.  Because slips, trips, and falls occur more than any other occupational injury, it makes good sense for the company to ensure that employees comply with a good housekeeping program.  This is a plan that should be part of each worker’s daily performance.  If each individual does his/her part to keep work areas clean, the housekeeping program will be a success.  The same rule applies to our homes.  If we don’t place things in their right place, someone is going to come along and trip over something that shouldn’t have been there.  Nightlights are good for preventing falls (or running into a wall) for overnight visitors who could get lost in the darkness in your home. 

Most falls can be prevented.  All we should do is follow this simple rule: watch where we are going!  We take walking for granted, so we pay little attention to potential hazards.  Here are some common fall hazards cited by the National Safety Council that we should watch for:

  • Hidden steps;
  • Wet spots;
  • Smooth surfaces;
  • Loose, irregular surfaces;
  • Oil and grease.
  • Obstacles in walkways;
  • Electrical cords in walkways;
  • Aisles that have boxes stacked and left in the way;
  • File cabinet drawers left open;
  • Tools left out. 

Many workers are required to wear protective footwear on the job.  Shoes that have slip-resistant soles help prevent  injuries.  Safety footwear is designed to protect feet against the most common types of injuries, impact, compression and puncture.  It is important to choose footwear according to the hazards present, but also be sure it is comfortable enough to wear for several hours.  

Tomorrow we will delve into this serious subject a little bit more.  Until then, stay safe, and remain upright!


SOURCES: CCOHS, SORM (Sstate Office of Risk Management, Texas), OSHA

National Safety Month Week 2 – Fall Prevention

Falls happen as a result of tripping, slipping, or falling from elevated places such as ladders, stepladders, roofs, trees, or many other hazardous places.  Both at home and the workplace, good housekeeping is a necessity to prevent such occurrences.  Carpets or floors should be in good condition, and the environment should be clutter-free.

When going to a shopping mall or hospital, many times we see the floors being mopped.  There are signs warning us of a wet floor; however, it’s so easy to just walk on through, disregarding the chance of taking a fall.  We need to be aware at all times just how simple it is to take a fall by merely not paying attention to our surroundings.

Falls are the most common cause of fatal injuries to construction workers.  All workers should take the time to ensure that their working conditions are as safe as possible.

Please take heed to these fall-prevention ideas:

  • Never stand on a chair on furniture to reach high places; use a stepladder or ladder.
  • When you are going up or down stairs, hold on to the rail.
  • If it is required for your job, wear personal fall protection.
  • Do not carry a load you can’t see over.
  • Walk, don’t run, and watch where you are going.
  • Wear non-skid, waterproof shoes if you work in an area where there are spills.
  • Be sure the work area has adequate lighting.
  • Ensure that your work area has enough working space to avoid collisions.
  • Avoid blind corners in workspaces.

Here is some information on ladders:

  • The ladder you choose for use should be in good condition.
  • Hold on while climbing the ladder.
  • While working, keep one hand on the ladder.
  • Be sure it is set up on a firm and level surface.
  • Construction ladders have duty ratings:

Type I supports up to 250 lbs.
Type IA supports up to 300 lbs.
Type IAA supports up to 375 lbs.

Be aware that the consequences of a fall can be very serious.  At home, work, or play, take the time to avoid injury.

Prevent Falling Accidents

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 falling protection deal with preventing fall hazards, and providing proper safety equipment.

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. Lastly, use some common sense when working off the ground. It’s always better to have too much protection than not enough.

Listed below is a short glossary of fall prevention equipment that can be furnished for safe 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.