When you work in an industrial environment, it goes without saying that safety is — and should be — a number one priority. Currently in the UK, falls are the most frequent cause of non-fatal major injuries in the manufacturing sector. And in the US, according to the CDC, more than 700,000 individuals are hospitalized per year due to falls.
This is exactly why OSHA has made it mandatory for employers to provide industrial workers with adequate fall protection systems. These systems are to be used without fail whenever professionals are working at heights of 6 feet or higher on surfaces that lack edge protection. However, there’s more to supplying your team with excellent fall protection than simply settling for the first option you stumble across.
Let’s take a closer look at some key points to consider.
Compliance with OSHA Standards
Naturally, one of your main concerns should be making sure the system you’re considering fully meets OSHA’s official standards. Most of the systems out there are designed for professionals, so they probably will, but you should still double check before you invest your money. The last thing you want is for your facility to fail an OSHA inspection because your fall protection of choice isn’t up to snuff.
OSHA policies cover all of the criteria and standard practices you need to know when it comes to fall protection, so make sure you review the appropriate ones thoroughly. (Refer to OSHA 1910 for industry work, OSHA 1926 for construction and OSHA 1915 for maritime work.) You can opt for guardrail systems, fall arrest systems, safety nets or any combination of solutions when formulating your company’s fall protection plan.
Know Your Needs
Before you begin the evaluation process, you’ll need to understand your options and ultimately decide which ones are the best fits for your facility and team.
Passive fall protection systems are designed to prevent the actual hazards of free fall. (Examples include guardrails, positioning device systems and warning line systems.) Restraint systems, on the other hand, work to prevent team members from reaching the point where free fall could occur in the first place. Such systems will include body belts and/or full body harnesses, restraint lanyards, tether lines, an anchorage connector and an anchorage point.
When team members are working at heights and trusting their lives to fall protection, you need to know precise measurements in regards to the total fall distance. Otherwise, you run the risk of not having enough actual room for the system to do its job. Make sure you factor in 6 feet for the lanyard length and 3 ½ feet for shock absorber deceleration for the average 6-foot-tall worker. You should also allow for a safety factor of 3 feet.
Will your project call for fall protection that goes beyond the basics when it comes to protection? For instance, welding projects may call for flame retardant harnesses made of special materials like Kevlar. There are harnesses available that are resistant to chemicals, arc light flash force and more. Consult with your vendor’s on-staff team of experts for advice and suggestions if needed.
Ease of Use and Flexibility
If your team will be relying on wearable fall protection equipment, then it’s important to consider factors like comfort, user friendliness and flexibility. You want options that workers will want to wear and that they’ll find easy to adjust if needed. Othervwise, you risk their taking the harnesses off and putting them back on repeatedly — not something you want when safety is the ultimate focus. Stand-up D-rings, flexible webbing and other similar features can help make harnesses more comfortable and easier to work in.
The Importance of Brand and Vendor
Naturally, you don’t want to trust the safety of your team to just any system. Always opt for industrial grade options from top brands with a reputation for producing excellent products. Choose the vendor you buy from with care as well. You want a company that can offer you expansive curated catalogs, fantastic customer service, and a team of hardworking experts that can assist you when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
When you make the decision to entrust your fall protection needs to SafeRack, you’re not just gaining access to some of the best, most reliable industrial equipment on the market. You’re making a business alliance with a valuable partner who will provide you with expert advice and essential information. Explore the possibilities today!