Trends in ... fall protection
Failure to use fall protection – or using it improperly – can result in serious injury or death. In fact, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. According to OSHA, out of 991 construction fatalities in 2016, 370 were the result of falls to a lower level.
Here, industry insiders discuss new products in the fall protection field, as well as how workers can avoid fall-related incidents.
“There are several exciting developments that will enhance the safety of construction workers and others who rely on fall protection to stay safe working at height,” said Rahil Hasan, product marketing manager for Lincolnshire, IL-based Honeywell Industrial Safety, adding that a new generation of self-retracting lifelines now exist for leading-edge applications.
In addition, Hasan notes, new software solutions are available to ensure compliance. “Chief among these is a cloud-based software that provides real-time visibility on a worker’s readiness for safe work,” he said.
Anne Osbourn (right), marketing manager, construction segment, for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA, also spoke of advancements on products for leading-edge applications. “With this, there are new innovations for leading-edge SRLs – which incorporate special web lifeline technology designed to meet ANSI and CSA test requirements for leading edge,” Osbourn said. “Technology like this ultimately benefits the user, as it provides lighter-weight options that can help reduce worker fatigue throughout the day.”
It’s all about training
Improperly using a fall protection harness can be deadly.
“Using a harness with no descent D-ring and attaching to a sternal or other D-ring can lead to extreme discomfort and even an acceleration of suspension trauma,” said Pat Furr, VPP coordinator/technical consultant/safety officer for Baton Rouge, LA-based Roco Rescue Inc. “I have seen instances where users attempted to use the side positioning rings for descent control and one of the users nearly fainted while on line.”
To help prevent these incidents, regular training is a must. “It is always a challenge to ensure that all workers who may face potential fall hazards are not only initially trained on how to use a product, but continually trained, so that they are prepared and comfortable in what actions to take in the event of a fall,” Osbourn said. She went on to note that fall arrest is only part of the training, and a rescue plan for fallen workers also needs to be in place. “Too many times, mistakes may be made in that rescue plans do not receive the necessary attention until it is time to actually carry one out,” she said.
To keep workers safe, it’s important for organizations to take the lead. “Companies that are moving to a ‘culture of safety’ are doing so by taking advantage of advanced training services, engineered solutions and PPE repair expertise with an eye out for total safety solutions,” Hasan said.