The ABCD's of Fall Safety
Posted by PK Safety Team on Feb 13th 2020
You can never be too careful when it comes to fall safety. Protecting your fellow workers from possible falls, slips, and trips when they’re working on elevated surfaces or around holes in the ground is just too important. Falls are the most common type of workplace injury. Protect your employees by making sure they have the right fall safety equipment.
Fall protection requirements vary from job site to job site. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. Regardless of what industry you work in, fall protection should be a part of your operations.
However, fall safety is about more than just wearing a safety harness. The ABCD’s of fall safety were designed to help you remember what it means to keep your employees safe on the job. Every member of your team should be aware of this information, so they don’t leave anything to chance. Let’s go over the ABCD’s of fall safety, so you can keep your workers safe every step of the way.
Anchors and Carabiners
Anchors keep you and your team anchored to your surroundings, reducing the chances of a fall. Anchors are typically made with high-quality steel or metal. They usually come with a clip that attaches directly to an anchor point, such as the structure you’re working on. If you or a member of your team were to fall unexpectedly, the anchor will be your first line of defense.
Fall safety anchors come in all shapes and sizes. They tend to differ dramatically from industry to industry, so make sure you buy the right type for the task at hand. Some may include a small clip, while others may use wall anchors or sliding beam anchors for added protection, swivel hooks for added mobility, or cross arm straps. Research these different types of anchors to find the right one for your team.
Anchors can easily rust or lose their efficacy over time. Make sure you and your team inspect your anchors before working on elevated surfaces. The clip should close tightly. Watch out for loose connections and bendable materials that might not hold up under pressure.
Moving on, the “B” refers to body support, usually in the form of a full body harness. Anchors won’t protect you from the fall unless they are attached to a full body harness. The harness distributes the weight of the fall across your body, including the thighs, waist, chest, and shoulders. If you were to fall, the harness will catch your body without injuring you in the process. Without a harness, the anchor or belt attached to your body could easily come apart. The weight of the fall may also injure you as you come to a stop.
Look for a full body harness that wraps around the shoulders, chest and inner thighs for maximum fall protection. It should include a range of secure straps and buckles that should fit comfortably around your body. The harness shouldn’t feel too tight or loose, or it may be ineffective on the job. You can also clip tools and equipment to your fall harness for fast access when you’re working up high.
Connectors and Lifelines
The connector attaches the anchor to your full body harness, so everything works in tandem in the event of a fall. Connectors come in all different styles, depending on how much you may need to move on the job. For example, certain brands and connectors come with self-retracting lines that allow you to quickly move up and down vertical lines of rope, so you can zip from one area to the next.
Connectors and lifelines help you come to a stop comfortably in the event of a fall, instead of catching you all at once. Almost all industry standard connectors come with built-in shock absorbers to help dissipate the energy from a fall. Fall protection lanyards are made with a variety of styles when it comes to the inner workings. But all are made with the express intent of reducing the sudden shock by controlled braking of the fall.
Descent and Rescue
Some professionals just stick to the ABC’s of fall safety, but you can’t forget about the “D.” Descent and rescue systems are designed to help you safely lower employees to safety in the event of a fall. Common fall protection harnesses and lanyards do their job by bringing you safely to a halt after a fall. But that leaves the worker hanging in space. This may be a few feet off the ground, or many stories up in the air. The point is, what do fellow workers do then? OSHA identified that suspension trauma could be fatal within 30 minutes of the initial fall. This 30-minute window is what OSHA refers to when it says that a fall protection plan must contain plans for a "prompt" rescue.
Some harness manufacturers have developed built-in descent lines into their designs. This facilitates either a self rescue or an assisted one in the event that the worker is unconscious. For fast retrieval, look for descent and rescue systems that can be deployed quickly in the field. Your employees shouldn’t have to wait for a rescue squad.
The ABCD’s of fall safety are designed to keep you and your team in the know when it comes to fall safety. Use this fall protection equipment to keep your workers safe from the hazards of working in the air. Contact the professionals at PK Safety to learn more about our fall safety products.