Dangers! Be Careful at Work

Despite special emphasis programs from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and increasingly sophisticated fall-protection equipment, falls from height remain a serious occupational safety challenge.

Falls from ladders and roofs still account for the majority of falls. Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The U.S. Department of Labor lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for 8 percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma. Identifying fall hazards and deciding how best to protect workers is the first step in reducing or eliminating fall hazards. OSHA mandates that any time a worker is at a height of 4 feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs protection. Fall protection must be provided at 4 feet in general industry, 5 feet in maritime and 6 feet in construction.

Experts have identified six major recurring errors in fall protection. From the least to most common, they are:

  1. Mistake No. 1: Waiting for the free fall.
    Don’t wait for a fall to occur before taking action to update your fall-protection plan. When identifying a fall hazard, analyze the likelihood of fatal or serious injury, as well as the amount of time employees will be exposed to the hazard. Basically, you want to eliminate the fall by changing the work process or environment. If you remember these three steps for proper fall protection  eliminate a fall hazard entirely, prevent a fall from happening and provide personal fall-arrest equipment — you will save lives and prevent serious injuries.
  2. Mistake No. 2: Anchorages that miss the mark.
    Selecting inadequate anchorages is a major problem. The best harness with the best lanyard or lifeline cannot arrest a fall if the user chooses unsuitable anchorages. An anchorage must support 5,000 pounds for a single tie-off point for one individual. In all cases, the free fall should be limited to 6 feet or less. An anchorage should be positioned directly overhead whenever possible to avoid a swing-fall injury, and anchorages should be
    selected based on how a rescue would be performed.
  3. Mistake No. 3: Lack of communication/training.
    Lack of instructions—in the appropriate language—is a key reason people misuse equipment or don’t use it at all. Safety directors need to check the instructions provided with the equipment and ensure they provide proper training. As an employer, you can determine the training format. What’s important is that, through training, your employees can recognize fall hazards and know procedures to minimize the hazards. It’s important that the trainer knows the hazards at the work site, knows how to eliminate or control the hazards and knows how to teach workers to protect themselves. That’s why the trainer must be a competent person. (A competent person is one who can identify work-site hazards and who has management authority to control them.) The trainer must know and be able to explain the following:
    • The nature of fall hazards at the work site
    • Procedures for erecting, maintaining and disassembling fallprotection systems and personal fall-arrest systems
    • How to use and operate fall-protection systems and
    personal fall-arrest systems
    • The role of each employee who may be affected by a safetymonitoring system
    • The restrictions that apply to mechanical equipment used
    during roofing work
  4. Mistake No. 4: Know when to say when.
    Knowing when to remove a product from service is key to safe working conditions. You must inspect
    equipment regularly and take it out of service if it shows wear and tear. Using equipment past its useful life, especially a lanyard, is a potentially deadly mistake. A good idea is to adopt a smart policy: If in doubt, throw it out. The benefit of an extra week or month of service isn’t worth the risk. Be on the lookout for fraying, cuts and deformed metal hardware. Also, exposure to heat and chemicals can cause damage. Finally, signs of deployment mean you can no longer use that safety equipment.
  5. Mistake No. 5: Which way does this go?
    Although more workers today are using fallprotection gear, they don’t always use it correctly. In many instances, workers wear the harnesses too loose. While misusing harnesses in that way is a big mistake, many contractors also buy incorrect equipment for specific applications. One common example is that many contractors buy shockabsorbing lanyards and use them in areas with inadequate fall clearance. A retractable lifeline or a fall limiter should be used, instead, depending— of course—on the circumstances.
  6. Mistake No. 6: Not using fall protection equipment.
    Many users ignore the need for consistency in using fall protection. Thus, it is important to have a plan and implement it, and that means wearing fall-protection equipment every day. The plan should include identification and evaluation of fall hazards and their elimination, if possible; the use of appropriate fall-protection systems to prevent or control falls when you can’t eliminate hazards; ensuring that employees receive fall-protection training; and inspecting and maintaining equipment.

4 Ways to Avoid the Most Common Warehouse Incidents

Employees working in a warehouse are exposed to a number of strenuous activities that can threaten their well-being. According to OHSA, the number of forklift-related accidents reaches close to 100,000 per year (100 fatal accidents, 34,900 serious injury accidents, and 61,800 non-serious accidents). As a result, those who handle heavy material handling equipment such as forklifts need to take special precautions to ensure that the materials they transport are properly handled. Here are four most common warehouse incidents you can easily avoid to prevent injuries and increase workplace productivity.

Slips & Trips
The warehouse is a place with lots of stuff. Its narrow aisles, tall stacks of goods, and poor lighting are the exact ingredients that can compromise visibility. Slipping and tripping over materials or spilled liquid are common accidents that can be avoided if the warehouse maintains adequate lighting and equips dark corners with special lights that can be easily switched on and off. Remove unnecessary steps or ridges and encourage employees to never leave any cargo, box, and goods unattended on the floor.

If a warehouse worker needs to temporarily leave the floor, it is important for him or her to move materials away from the center of the aisle while keeping lights on. In cases when something is spilled, employees should take the proper steps to close the area with visible signs and clean up as soon as possible.

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FUNDAMENTALS OF FALL PROTECTION

It’s not the fall that hurts – it’s the sudden stop.

I read the preceding statement while performing a simulated OSHA inspection. Most fall-related injuries result from the lack of fall protection. Additional injuries occur from improper use of fall protection – utilizing a body belt instead of a full body harness, improper use of lanyards, or utilizing an inadequate anchorage point. Falls from heights of 10 feet or greater almost always result in serious injury or death. It is important to note, however, that serious injuries and fatalities also commonly occur from fall heights of ten feet or less.

After retiring as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry Shelton fell approximately 10 feet from a metal ladder while trimming an oak tree outside his house. Attending physicians were doubtful that Shelton would ever walk again. It’s ironic that a former paratrooper who made 400 jumps without incident, some from 20,000 feet at night, was nearly paralyzed from a fall off a ladder!

OSHA lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma. An OSHA study involving 99 fall-related fatalities suggests that virtually all of those deaths could have been prevented by the use of guardrails, body harnesses, safety nets, covers, or other means which would have reduced employee exposure to the fall hazard.

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Harness Safety Includes Proper Selection, Fit and Use

Fall protection is the leading liability risk in the Occupational Health and Safety Industry. Since everything from harness construction to harness components can be compared and contrasted, selecting the proper harness to protect your workers can be a confusing process. To help you make an informed decision, here are some tips from safety directors and product managers on questions to ask before you invest in equipment.

Harness Selection

How Safe Is a Full-Body Harness?

Surprisingly, some brands of harnesses do not meet basic safety standards. Before purchasing fall protection products, request written proof from the manufacturers for the following items:

 

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How To Put On A Fall Protection Harness The Right Way

In the construction industry, working at heights is a standard part of the job. But with increased height also comes an increased risk of falling.

Consequently, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, taking the lives of more than 359 construction workers in 2014. Personal fall arrest systems – body harnesses, lanyards, and connectors – are one method of protecting workers from injury and death by falls.

Fall arrest systems aren’t foolproof, however. Faulty or misused fall harnesses can be just as dangerous as no fall protection at all. But knowing what to look for when inspecting a fall arrest system, and how to properly strap on a harness, can save your life. Here are steps for inspecting and putting on fall arrest harnesses so that you stay safe while working at heights. Continue reading “How To Put On A Fall Protection Harness The Right Way”

Fall Protection FAQs: Five Things You’ve Been Meaning to Ask

No matter what industry you work in, the importance of workplace safety has likely been drilled into your head since day one. You must use the proper equipment, receive the right training, and always follow safety protocols. Making safe decisions has probably become instinctive, built into your everyday routine. However, every job site has its own unique challenges and requirements, which can leave even the most experienced workers feeling unsure of what is required. Below are five common questions that Capital Safety’s expert team hears from workers at height across the country. Continue reading “Fall Protection FAQs: Five Things You’ve Been Meaning to Ask”

Fall Safety in the Manufacturing Industry

Within the past decade, fall prevention violations are No. 1 on OSHA’s list of most-violated construction standards, and they often result in tragic outcomes for workers and cost businesses a substantial amount of money and damage to their reputations.

It is fair to say that the indoor industrial work environment – including factories, warehouses and manufacturing plants – also can harbor fall hazards. Such settings create numerous opportunities for tripping, slipping and falling, thanks to greasy floors, damaged steps, clutter and uneven walking surfaces. Continue reading “Fall Safety in the Manufacturing Industry”

Why Don’t People Wear Fall Protection?

There are many reasons why people should wear fall protection, yet countless workers still avoid wearing fall safety equipment. These same workers will blame the employer or the equipment and always look for every reason or excuse for not wearing it. Continue reading “Why Don’t People Wear Fall Protection?”