Working in a construction zone comes with many potential hazards, one of them being falling from large heights. This is how you can ensure your own safety and protect yourself from falling when working at height.
Firstly, use railing whenever you have a chance to do so. This passive form of protection is the easiest and most common way for workers to ensure their safety at work. You don’t need any extra equipment or training in order to be able to “use” railings. As a matter of fact, there is not much you need to do to keep yourself safe other than to just stay within the rail.
There are numerous different railing systems depending on what style of the rooftop you are working on – parapet mounted railing, non-penetrating railing, metal roof railing, and many more. No matter which ones you are using, your safety will be ensured easily and efficiently and you don’t even have to do anything.
Select the Proper PPE
When working for construction companies, you will often use Personal Fall Arrest Systems or in other words PFAS. To make sure you are 100% safe, you need to pick proper equipment. Sometimes that will include investing in some high-quality full-body harnesses, but if it means saving your life it’s worth every penny. Not only are you investing in something that will keep you safe and secure, but will also help boost functionality and it will help you do your job much more efficiently.
Inspect Your PPE
After you pick your equipment, it’s time for you to inspect it. The protective measures you take don’t matter if they don’t work properly. Equipment such as lanyards and body harnesses must be regularly inspected (annually) and it needs to be done by someone competent. Other than that, you as well need to properly examine the equipment before you start using it. You need to make sure the straps are in place and that they are firm enough. This extra step can end up saving your life one day.
Ensure You Understand Fall Distance
Wearing the protective gear and equipment is the first step to ensuring your safety. However, that’s not where we stop. All of the protective equipment in this world could mean nothing if the equipment fails at engaging before you hit the ground. This may seem like it’s unnecessary to mention, but this is actually a very common mistake that can be prevented so easily. So, it’s definitely worth mentioning.
For instance, if the worker is placed 10 to 12’ off the ground and wearing a 6’ lanyard, what seems to be off in this scenario?
Well, first of all you need to add roughly 3.5’ of distance that your device needs for deployment. That already puts the lanyard at the length of 9.5’ drop. Unless you are 6 feet tall, this could end badly for you.
So, in your fall distance, you need to include the length of the lanyard, your body height and any potential sag that can happen in your anchor and harness system. Calculating this distance correctly can save your life.
Select an Acceptable Anchor Point
So, as you can see there are many factors that go into protection against the fall. The right harness and well-calculated fall distance, however, won’t do the job if you don’t select an acceptable anchor point.
What is it that constitutes acceptable anchor points? The anchor point is acceptable only if:
- it’s both designed and approved by an expert engineer that has correctly calculated the expected loads
- it can handle a load of 5,000 pounds
Know when and what type of Fall Protection is required
Lastly, now that you have the right equipment, anchor points and calculated fall distance, think about what type of fall protection is required by OSHA. The factors you need to take into consideration are location of work, duration, and frequency. For instance, these are the terms that you can use when determining these factors:
- Infrequent: Work that you performed once a month or even less
- Temporary: Simple, short-term tasks that take about 2 hours to complete
Location of Work: Lastly, you determine the location of work in proximity to the potential hazard.
In conclusion, there are several steps you need to take to ensure your safety at work, some of them being using the proper equipment, understanding the fall distance, and using the acceptable anchor points.