Falls in construction are the leading cause of deaths in the United States. OSHA states that employers are responsible for putting preventative measures in place to protect employees from falls at height, which includes having a fall protection plan.
But what exactly does a fall protection plan entail? Let’s explore!
The main purpose of the plan is to determine the fall hazards at the worksite and establish the methods and equipment each company will use to protect its workforce. Most jobsites and many state or local regulations even require contractors to have a plan on record.
Not only is it important to have a plan, but employers also need to ensure its workforce understands the plan. Workers should also be trained on implementing the plan and what to do in case of a fall. Accidents happen, but with a good fall protection plan in place it can help reduce the chance of serious or fatal injuries.
It’s important to include jobsite information in your plan. This will consist of general information about the project; company name, the pre-identified competent person, jobsite address, and scope of work. Also make sure to include phone numbers for first responders in the event of an emergency.
Make sure to identify the fall hazards on site. Do this prior to starting work and remember that no two jobs are the same. Evaluate all of the potential hazards on the project and ensure that you understand how the work is to be completed. Make note of where will employees be working, and the known fall hazards. Including, leading edge work, floor holes, connecting operations, ladders, and use of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), such as boom lifts or scissor lifts.
Types of Equipment and Inspections
There are many options for a fall protection system. Determine the equipment and methods prior to beginning work. When deciding the method of protection, you should use the hierarchy of controls. These controls (from most preferred to least) are as follows - Elimination, Passive Fall Protection, Fall Restraint, Fall Arrest, Administrative Controls.
Next, outline proper equipment assembly and installation requirements. Include inspection criteria as well as proper storage of equipment. Employees need to fully understand how the equipment works, the frequency of inspections that will be required, and what to do with equipment if they identify any damaged or defective equipment. Additionally, improper storage of equipment can cause premature damage or deterioration. Be sure to refer to manufacturer manuals and inspection criteria.
The plan should also include best practices for protecting workers from falling objects. This can include controlled or limited access zones. If this route is taken, ensure the proper tape, signage and spotters are in position.
In the event of a fall, time is critical and having a rescue plan is essential to minimize any potential injury. Ensure the workforce is aware of the plan and has been properly trained on the equipment and its location.
In your fall protection plan, identifying a method of communication (via phone, radio, etc.) is key in the event of an emergency. Then, outline the rescue plan by type. Did the employee fall off of a ladder, MEWP, ascent or descent device, or scaffold? Make sure there is a rescue plan for each one.
Founding father, inventor, and publisher Benjamin Franklin is credited with the saying: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” In safety, if you do not have a plan then you can almost guarantee you will fail. Every project is different and presents a unique set of challenges when setting up your Fall Protection Plan but following these steps should help make planning easier.
OSHA Fall Protection Plan
OSHA Fall Protection Page
USACE Fall Protection Guide
3M Fall Protection Rescue Plan
This Safety Flash was contributed by Dax Biederman, Senior Safety Consultant, Trivent Safety Consulting, in cooperation with SEAA’s Safety Committee. It is designed to keep members informed about ongoing safety issues and to provide suggestions for reducing risk. Best practices are gathered from a variety of sources. They may be more or less stringent than individual corporate policies and are not intended to be an official recommendation from SEAA. Always get approval and direction from your company officers on any new practice or procedure as these best practices may not work for all situations.
Everyone benefits when a worker avoids injury. Submit your ideas for Safety Flash to firstname.lastname@example.org
SEAA has posthumously awarded David Alan Schulz of Schulz Iron Works with its highest lifetime achievement, the William Davis Service Award during its 50th Anniversary Gala in April. Stephanie Trainor, Vice President and Marketing Manager, Construction Insurance Agency, was recognized as the association’s 2022 Person of the Year.
Two employees of Adaptive Construction Solutions, Inc. (ACS), Houston, Texas, have competed NCCER’s new Construction Workforce Development Professional training and certification program under SEAA’s Craft Training Sponsorship. Carlos Pulido, Executive Vice President, and Karen Champion, Apprenticeship Manager, received the certification in order to distribute the training internally to ACS staff who recruit veterans into construction apprenticeships.
“We hope the training will give them greater insight into the construction industry, NCCER certifications, and apprenticeships, as part of their own professional development and to help them provide information, advice, and guidance to prospective apprentices,” said Champion.
“This is the first NCCER certification of this kind to be completed under SEAA’s sponsorship. Our members are dedicated to the training and development of industry professionals and we are proud to be able to assist them in their efforts,” said Tim Eldridge, President of Educational Services Unlimited and SEAA’s Craft Training and Assessment Coordinator.
ACS, which hosted SEAA's first Career Fair last year, is the recipient of an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. ACS is one of 30 organizations to receive funds from the Apprenticeship Building America grants.
Learn more about Adaptive Construction Solutions, Inc.
To combat the dangers of heat exposure, OSHA reminds employers and workers not to ignore the dangers of working in hot weather – indoors and out. Incorporating water, rest and shade can be the difference between ending the workday safely or suffering serious injuries or worse.
OSHA and NIOSH have released a free app, OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool, that calculates a worksite's heat index and shows the associated risk levels. Users will see precautionary recommendations specific to heat index risk levels to help protect employees from heat-related illness.
OSHA's Occupational Heat Exposure page explains the symptoms of heat illness, first aid measures to provide while waiting for help, engineering controls and work practices to reduce workers' exposure to heat, and training.
SEAA has opened the submission forms for 2022 Project of the Year, Safety Excellence, and Craft Training Excellence awards. Industry-wide publicity and peer recognition are just two of the benefits of participation. Submission deadline is December 31, 2022.
The 2022 Dave Schulz Memorial Golf Tournament will be held in Broomfield, Colo., on September 16 at The Golf Club at Omni Interlocken Hotel. This fundraiser golf tournament supports Craft Training Grants and other Safety and Education Projects.
The Golf Club at Omni Interlocken Hotel is a 27-hole championship golf course that consists of three individual regulation 9-hole courses, Eldorado, Vista, and Sunshine. Nestled against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, the hotel offers panoramic views of the mountains and valley and is ranked third in the “Best Resort Courses of Colorado” survey.
The Captain’s Choice tournament is limited to the first 60 golfers. Teams will tee off at scheduled tee times and will be assigned to one of three courses. The tournament includes prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place teams, Hole in One, Putting, Closest to the Pin, Longest Drive, and the fan-favorite Boom Lift Ball Drop sponsored by United Rentals.
Interested in sponsoring the golf tournament? Sponsorships include one on-course promotional tent, company logos on the tournament golf balls, and unlimited tee/hole sponsors. View the golf brochure to see available sponsorship options.
Once registered, don’t forget to book your hotel room as the room block ends on August 15, or until sold out. The golf course has limited availability for club rentals. To reserve clubs, contact the golf course directly at 303-438-6600.
SEAA will also be hosting a Meet & Greet reception on September 15 at the Omni Interlocken Hotel. SEAA members and non-members will hear from product suppliers with ideas and solutions to improve your business. Find the RSVP form and view sponsorship information here.
At times we can get so focused on protecting ourselves on the jobsite that we forget about the risks the public could potentially be exposed to if they are near a jobsite. These risks include dropping a bolt onto a busy sidewalk from a high-rise structure in an urban environment, a 300-foot lattice boom lifting or lowering near public areas a block away, or torch cutting and welding on an existing office building full of people who don’t even know you are there. These are all real-life scenarios and challenges we face every day, but which can catch the public by surprise.
Here are three ways to reduce risk to the public.
One way to keep the public safe is by preventing them from passing by or through a construction site. Setting up “hard barricade” boundaries is the best way to keep unauthorized people out of danger. Signs should be posted on these boundaries warning people not to enter the construction area. When arc welding, use shields made of noncombustible or flameproof material to protect everyone in the vicinity from direct rays of the arc. [29 CFR 1926.351(e)]
Dropped Object Prevention
When it comes to steel erection, usually a simple fence on the ground isn’t enough protection. Dropped objects accounted for over 240 deaths in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The goal is to prevent falling objects in the first place. The use of tool lanyards and catch nets are the best ways we can protect the public from dropped objects.
When guard rails are used, they must have sufficient toe boards at least 3½ inches in height from top edge to floor level, and no more than a ¼ inch gap at the bottom. It must be capable of withstanding a force of 50 pounds applied in any direction. It’s always best practice to add mesh fencing from the top guard rail to the toe board for extra dropped object protection.
Preventing Exposure to Equipment
Another issue that affects public safety is exposure to equipment. This includes the operation of cranes, forklifts, aerial lifts, or other vehicles that could get caught between and struck by hazards.
First, properly maintained equipment is far less likely to experience a failure. Thorough inspections by an authorized person is critical to the maintenance process. Any safety issues must be reported immediately and the equipment should be taken out of service until it is fixed by a qualified person.
Next, use spotters! Spotters should always be used when the operator’s line of sight is interrupted. How many spotters should you use when operating equipment in a high-risk area? As many as it takes! Spotters tend to put themselves in a caught between/ struck by hazard situation. The spotter should always place him/herself in a position that has a clear line of sight with the operator and direction of travel while using good body positioning.
What It All Comes Down To
The most effective way to keep the public safe starts with in depth planning, detailed pre-construction meetings, and keeping our employees’ training up to date. Employees need to have a clear understanding of the hierarchy and be made aware of the procedures, materials, tools, and equipment available to them to support their efforts in creating a safer job site for the public and other workers. Great safety cultures have foundations built from both directions, top down and bottom up all connecting in a common goal.
Guidelines for Establishing the Components of a Site-specific Erection Plan
Protection of Pedestrians (ICC) Section 3306
Dropped Object Prevention
This Safety Flash was contributed by Austin Reiner, Safety Manager, Derr & Gruenewald Construction Company, in cooperation with SEAA’s Safety Committee. It is designed to keep members informed about ongoing safety issues and to provide suggestions for reducing risk. Best practices are gathered from a variety of sources. They may be more or less stringent than individual corporate policies and are not intended to be an official recommendation from SEAA. Always get approval and direction from your company officers on any new practice or procedure as these best practices may not work for all situations.
Everyone benefits when a worker avoids injury. Submit your ideas for Safety Flash to email@example.com.
Immediate Action Required: Stop Use/Recall on Select 3MTM DBI-SALA® ShockWaveTM2 Arc Flash Shock Absorbing Lanyards
Click the link below to download the recall notice from 3M.