In 2013 alone, the BLS reported over 595 construction worker deaths from falls. Three out of five were from heights of 20 feet or less.
A fall on the jobsite is a dangerous prospect that could lead to serious injury or even death. So how can you protect yourself? To start, you could eliminate the need to go to height, or you could set up a physical barrier, like a railing.
If those options aren’t possible or practical, you need some sort of active fall protection, like restraints, body harnesses, anchors, and connectors.
A. Anchorage Connectors
A 220 lb. person produces 20,000 lbs. of force—the weight of 2 elephants—when falling 15 mph with straight legs.
Anchorage connectors—secure points of attachment for lifelines, lanyards, or deceleration devices—are designed to hold fast under the forces generated during a fall. They can be permanent or temporary, and connect to all kinds of structures and materials.
As per OSHA requirements [(1926.502(d)(15)], anchorage connectors must be .
Stay-Safe Tip: Only Anchor To Secure Structures
Always anchor to something secure. To stay safe, put your trust in a competent person who understands the worksite, equipment, and type of hazards.
B. Body Support
In 2013, fall protection was the most frequently cited violation.
Body support is designed to provide a personal connection point and distribute fall force across the entire body. Body support, the gold standard for fall arrest, consists of a dorsal D-ring for clipping to the fall arrest connector. Depending on the job, there may be other D-rings for travel restraint, worker positioning, retrieval, or ladder-climbing.
Stay-Safe Tip: Avoid Body Belts
Body belts put a tremendous amount of stress on the body. During a fall, they could cause serious injury or death. For these reasons, they’re no longer allowed.
In just seven-tenths of a second, a body will free-fall about eight feet.
Connectors are your lifeline between the body harness and anchorage connector. For personal fall arrest, the connector is usually a lanyard equipped with an energy-absorbing element that cushions your body in the event of a fall. For positioning and travel restriction, the connector is often a simple lanyard that prevents the user from entering a fall hazard zone, or from free-falling from a distance of less than two feet.
Stay-Safe Tip: Wear A Tight Harness
Workers come in all shapes and sizes—from short to small and big and tall—so one size doesn’t fit all. A loose harness can lead to injury, falling out of the harness, or choking. So make sure you get the right fit.
D. Descent & Rescue
Every year since 1992, around 700 U.S. workers died from falls at lower levels.
If a fall occurs, no one should be left hanging. There must be a plan to retrieve the injured worker and lower them safely to the ground. In the event of a fall on the job, dangling aerially for even a few minutes is dangerous and extremely hard on the body. Employers should provide prompt rescue, or ensure that employees can rescue themselves.
Stay-Safe Tip: Plan Your Escape
In a rescue situation, seconds count. It’s best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. First, put a plan in place. Then get your hands on an all-in-one escape solution designed for descent and rescue.
3M’s Got You Covered
Falling from heights is the second most common cause of injury on the jobsite.
Whether you need anchorage, body support, connectors, or descent and rescue devices, 3M products are designed to catch you if you fall. Nobody understands the need for safety more than 3M. For over 40 years (starting back in the Apollo 13 days), 3M has made it their mission to keep you safe on the job, with personal safety protection products for use across multiple industries. When it comes to fall protection, 3M’s got your back.
Learn more about 3M fall protection solutions.
Over To You
As National Market Manager at Graybar, Todd’s goal is to find the best products and solutions to help contractors work more efficiently, stay safe on the job, and win more productive and profitable business.
Sources & Credits
U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Fall protection systems criteria and practices
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts, 1992-2013 (revised data)
Link to: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0012.pdf