Ensuring the safety of workers on-site must be a priority for all in the construction and maintenance sectors. Without appropriate safety mechanisms in place, a person can fall as far as seven feet in less than a second. While worker injuries have fallen over the last 40 years, this is largely down to improved material handling and fall protection on job sites, emphasizing the importance of such investment in safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a set process to minimize dangerous falls and in so doing save lives. The three-step process comprises planning, providing, and training.

The provision of fall protection and the right equipment for material handling is a requirement especially for workers who are involved in work six feet or more above the ground, because the risk of serious injury and death increases in such circumstances. OSHA enforces different provisions for different work environments. For example, OSHA fall protection requires that such equipment and fall protection be in place in general industry workplaces at four feet and above. On the other hand, shipyards need to provide fall protection at five feet, while the requirement is six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations.

Having the right lifting equipment and rigging hardware is vital to ensuring fall protection compliance on job sites. Lifting chains and lifting slings — whether single, two, three or four leg — need to meet specific requirements. A test weight of 300 pounds should be used for testing of fall arrest systems, according to OSHA guidelines. There are two types of fall arrest systems, namely safety nets which are classified as general fall arrest, and personal fall arrest systems such as lifelines. At least 5,000 pounds must be supported for a single tie-off point for one person. Load limit is determined by the clip fittings — which actually hold 75% to 100% of the breaking load of the rope — and socket on the sling.

Such systems should also take temperature into account. For example, certain types of slings, such as uncoated metal mesh slings, can hold up to temperatures of as much as 550 degrees F. Workers using such equipment in environments above 400 degrees F or below minus 40 degrees F, are advised to follow manufacturer recommendations. In addition, annual inspections of all slings should take place, depending on service use. Severe service use may require quarterly or even monthly inspections.

By following OSHA’s guidelines and ensuring that material handling is safely done and that fall protection is on place, you can avoid any possible incidents that could threaten your working environment.

Leave a Reply