Fall Protection: A Serious Challenge in Compliance and Risk

Emphasize Prevention through Design
Although it is easier to see fall hazards in an existing structure, safety experts around the world have found that is it safer and more cost effective to implement fall protection before structures or processes are built. This concept is referred to as Prevention through Design (PtD).

 

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Apply the Hierarchy of Controls
To compare fall hazard abatement options, many regulations and standards refer to a concept called the “Hierarchy of controls.” In this hierarchy graph, the potential control methods are ranked in order of increasing residual risk. By following the hierarchy of Controls in selecting an abatement method, the most effective feasible solution may be implemented.

 

Strengthen Enforcement Activities
All organizations need to be cautious about managing their risk – including both safety and financial concerns. Many risk managers focus on balancing the need to reduce risk with the financial impacts. In only the U.S., companies are cited, and OSHA fines are much lower. In other countries, both employers and individuals can be penalized with significantly higher fines and potential prison sentences. Casualties and citations in the U.S. are trending in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, regulations and enforcement policies are slower to change. Each organization must develop a plan to improve safety and reduce risk for work at height. Here are some recommended ways to apply best procedures to minimize fall hazard risk:

  • Identify areas where you can better engage workers to address falls from heights.
    • What additional training is needed? How can training drive meaningful engagement?
    • Do you regularly seek input from workers on suggestions to improve safety?
    • Is your organizations culture outwardly safety-conscious, or secretly (or not-so-secretly) accepting of risk?
  • Determine methods you can employ to increase safety and reduce risk for workers at height.
    • Are you guilty of being harness centric? If so, how have you looked at other safer and more practical forms of access?
    • How are you using the Hierarchy of Controls to evaluate fall protection solutions?
    • Have you considered a Prevention through Design program?
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