Product Focus: Fall protection

Trends in ... fall protection

Inspection, training ‘essential’ to protecting workers, experts say

Wearing the right fall protection – and using it correctly – can save lives. However, many workers continue to die from fall-related injuries. Of the 937 fatalities that occurred in the construction industry in 2015, 350 were because of a fall to a lower level, OSHA states, adding that these deaths are preventable.

Here, industry insiders discuss what’s new in the fall protection field and what’s important to remember.


Anne Osbourn, industrial and utilities marketing manager for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA, spoke of making existing products, including self-retracting devices, better. “Radial energy absorption in self-retracting devices is a new method being applied in self-retracting lifelines in the [personal protective equipment] industry,” she said. “This new technology allows for lighter, more compact designs with less internal components, which helps lessen fatigue, increases worker productivity and simplifies maintenance of the product.”

Praveen Sharma, director of product marketing for Smithfield, RI-based Honeywell Industrial Safety, pointed to technological advancements, noting that there now is cloud-based software that can easily determine – in real-time – if workers are ready and equipped with the right PPE and training to do their jobs safely.

Getting it right

Not using the right equipment can be a deadly mistake. “Self-retracting lifelines for overhead use are sometimes used in leading applications, which can be a very dangerous situation if the user were to fall over the edge,” Osbourn said. She added that it is important for users to select the proper SRL for their application and ensure it will perform in the event of a fall, noting that leading-edge SRLs should be selected for use when the potential for a worker to fall and the lifeline to come in contact with an edge exists. “Leading-edge SRLs are designed with an in-line energy-absorber to ensure the lifeline remains intact to arrest the fall,” she said.

Training is crucial

When asked what workers should know about fall protection safety, Osbourn and Sharma had similar responses. “It’s essential that each worker should be trained to do their job and understand how to inspect their equipment, as well as appropriately don the PPE assigned,” Sharma said.

Osbourn stressed the importance of inspecting fall protection equipment before work begins. “It is the responsibility of the user to perform a lock-up test prior to using any self-retracting device to ensure proper functionality before going to work at height,” she said.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association.

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