Before the Fall: 4 Tips to Reduce Workplace Falls

According to OSHA’s 2017 fatality study (their “Fatal Four” listing) falls accounted for nearly 40 percent of all worksite deaths. Consequently OSHA reported that the most frequently violated safety standard was fall protection. Below are four precautionary measures every employer should take prior to handling elevated construction work.

Tip 1: Cover Floor Openings (“Walking-Working Surfaces”)

OSHA requires construction employers to abide by the following guidelines when floor openings and skylights need to be covered to provide a safe walking environment.

  • Appropriate Weight Ratio: Each floor covering must support twice the weight of the workers and their auxiliary equipment and materials.
  • Secured Installation: Ensure that your cover is fastened to the larger structure to prevent accidental movement when used by employees.
  • Identify Covering: Demarcate each covering with a bold listing to highlight what the cover is occupying (hole, skylight etc.).

Tip 2: Provide Railing and Toe-Boarding

Elevations pose a plethora of performance difficulties without proper railing support. According to OSHA Standard 1910.23(e) (1) there are four obligations employers are required to meet when providing a standard railing.

  • Height: An OSHA regulation railing must be at least 42 inches in height from the upper surface to the floor (and/or ramp).
  • Texture: Each regulation railing must have a smooth surface to prevent potential employee cuts and abrasions.
  • Distance: Any intermediary rail needs to be halfway between and the top rail and the floor surface
  • Length: Railings should never exceed their intended overhang unless it doesn’t constitute a projection hazard

Tip 3: Provide Appropriate PPE To Workers

Employees working in elevated construction require additional PPE to reduce and prevent falling injuries. The standard fall protection system includes the following:

  • Lifelines and Lanyards: Each employee is required to have their own vertical lifeline, protected from cuts, abrasions and potentially acidic content.
  • Anchorage: An employee’s lifeline/lanyard must be fastened to anchorage that can support a minimum weight of 5,000 pounds.

Tip 4: Educate Workers About Potential Job Hazards

Education is prevention. Even seasoned construction employees face new terms, regulations and safety standards on each project they tackle. Employers need to properly substantiate not only the requirements of the equipment and identifying work hazards but also understand the purpose of each directive.

For additional questions regarding job site safety, contact GC3  Monday through Friday: (515)-267-2470 —