Occupational safety is a huge concern in the workplace, especially when serious workplace injuries have occurred previously. When employees are exposed to fall hazards without proper safety training, an accident is waiting to happen.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fall protection systems in place to verify compliance with their requirements so that employees are properly trained in occupational safety. These programs assist employers so that every employee learns the required skills and understanding to stay safe on the job. By the way, you should check out our fall protection certification course which helps educate workers on the rules and the hazards, of working at heights. We also have a write up for a fall protection toolbox talk and you should check that out as well.
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OSHA Fall Protection Training Program
No one wants to find themselves unaware and in non-compliance with OSHA regulations. With recent regulations subject to delayed start dates, each company’s employer determined when to set new rules into motion. However, with those delayed dates now coming to pass, these workplace hazards must be addressed.
To have these hazards addressed, the employer relies on having the latest training certification to prove they are up to date on the more recent regulations and uphold a certain level of safety for all employees.
Addressing Common Misconceptions
Before delving into the training programs themselves, one must address common misconceptions about OSHA training requirements first. When companies state they want an employee trained with OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 on their certification record, they mean that they want an employee who took an OSHA outreach program.
Because of the non-mandatory guidelines of the outreach program, online OSHA courses don’t administer certifications for the time spent learning.
Recognize Fall Hazards
By OSHA standards, every employee must be considered a trained and competent person in recognizing safety hazards in the workplace. This means that only qualified personnel are permitted to administer the training program information to ensure employees follow the correct procedures.
Additionally, a competent person qualified with a written certification record has previous training in the construction industry and fall protection equipment. They will be able to help new employees identify fall hazards in their area and look out for their occupational health as well as their fellow workers. With a qualified person training the new employees, you know that the trainer has the skill required to administer the training.
Every workplace is different, but employees are exposed to similar workplace hazards. Every worker needs to be aware of what situations they are likely to face in the field so that the affected employee’s knowledge of safety procedures is ready and working when the time comes to act.
When the training program is completed before an incident, the affected employee can enact a plan of action to prevent serious work-related injuries from occurring. It’s also important to update information before training systems to guarantee that the actual training conducted is up to date and accurate. Updated training may render previous training obsolete on some occasions.
Educate on Safety Net Systems and Personal Fall Arrest Systems
Personal fall arrest systems may seem annoying at first, but they are an extra level of security. If the worst comes to pass, employees must know how to successfully use the safety equipment around them to prevent a dangerous fall. Fall protection systems are designed to keep employees from getting hurt in the workplace. Developing and educating workers on fall protection plans will help reduce the number of incidents that occur.
Mechanical equipment is difficult to operate, and the previous training provisions supplement may not cover all the most recent information. Prior training requirements are the foundation for further education on safety monitoring systems. A safety monitoring system is a piece of fall protection equipment that, when following correct procedures, will alert you to potential problems before they cause trouble.
Being aware of workplace hazards is essential in OSHA fall protection training. To prevent a traumatic occupational death, protection systems or equipment are necessary. Throughout the construction industry, there are many hazards and fall protection systems to counteract them.
With roofing work, there is always the concern of falling from the roof. Fall protection training can keep workers safe, especially in less than favorable conditions. The leading cause of slips and falls in roof work comes from wet and uneven surfaces, and as such employee safety monitoring systems are crucial.
Fall protection training will educate workers on the right technique to keep themselves from getting hurt and save the company time and money.
Construction Site Fall Hazards
Construction sites often have dangerous hazards around them that can injure workers who have not completed proper fall protection training. Major hazards in construction sites include unprotected sides and edges that can be stumbled over, as well as long falls when working on multiple floors.
Elevated work stations, unsecured scaffolding, and improper footing can be potentially dangerous to workers as well. While not all slips and falls will prove fatal, several other injuries can occur, such as twisted ankles, concussions, and sprains.
Fall Protection Systems or Equipment
Knowing what equipment is available and OSHA-compliant for fall protection can assist in maintaining your written certification record by avoiding non-compliance. The requisite understanding for fall protection means that updated information may render previous training obsolete, which is why keeping tabs on the latest information is crucial.
One of the most well-known and basic elements of fall protection is overhead protection. This includes things such as scaffolding and awnings built to keep debris from hitting passersby and workers alike as it falls.
Overhead hazards are easily forgotten and overlooked because they are generally out of sight. With this form of protection, there is little concern over items falling and hitting people below. For additional protection of the head, a hard hat can be worn to keep any debris from coming into contact with the skull directly.
These systems attach to the individual worker to secure them when they’re more than six feet off the ground. This way, should a fall occur, the worker is safe, secured, and will not fall from dangerous heights. Additionally, the line will secure the workers and prohibit dangerous movements that could endanger them or other workers. We do have a more detailed article on fall protection lanyards that you should check out as well.
Guardrails are commonly used to secure unprotected sides and the edge of floor holes that could easily be fallen into. They must withstand at least two hundred pounds of force to ensure they can withstand someone bumping into them or objects colliding with them.
Guardrails can come in many forms, such as wooden or metal frames. OSHA requires guardrails to stand at 42 inches high, and they must remain above 39 inches high when tipping over to be considered compliant. In this way, even if the guardrail is compromised by weight, it can still keep workers from falling over and sustaining injuries.
Safety Monitoring Systems
There are mechanical systems that can be used, but a safety monitor can also be a person that warns other workers of danger. For instance, in the case of roofers, a safety monitor will warn other roofers when they are too close to the edge and in danger of falling. They are also responsible for alerting workers when they are more than six feet above a stable level.
The person appointed to act as the safety monitor must be a competent person with the right certifications to identify hazards and warn others of them in time. They must have a comprehensive understanding of the dangers that face other workers.
Controlled Access Zones
When in doubt, controlled access zones in leading edge work can be beneficial. In places where guardrails, lines, and other safety systems would create more of a hazard, controlled access areas can be implemented instead.
These areas prevent non-essential and unqualified personnel from entering an area that cannot guarantee safety with traditional protection systems or equipment. While OSHA doesn’t recommend these, certain circumstances allow for them.
Warning Line Systems
A warning line can be used so long as it is clearly marked. This system of flags on a roof indicates the edge so that workers do not cross it and fall. A warning line works when guardrails and other safety measures cannot be used. Workers should be able to see the warning flags from the center of the roof and work knowing where the boundaries are for their safety.
A warning line can only be used on low-sloped rooftops because, as stated by OSHA, there is no safe distance from an unprotected edge.
Standard rules and regulations include keeping floors clean and free of debris that could cause slips and falls. OSHA requires that employers provide working conditions free of unknown dangers and hazards, as well as personal protective equipment at no cost to the workers.
Regardless of height, an employer must provide safety precautions for workers. The idea is to act proactively, not reactively. Preventing falls is far more optimal than taking action after. Finally, OSHA has several examples of where falls from heights caused fatalities and you should understand the consequences of not having a good fall protection program in place at your job site.
The Bottom Line
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has requirements for safety standards and certifications to ensure training is properly administered to workers. Staying in compliance with these rules will ensure your workers are safe, secure, and working hard. Stay up to date with the latest training and safety information to keep things running smoothly.