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Working Safely by Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

Workers using harnesses for fall protection
Workers using harnesses for fall protection
Matt Key - Photographer - Used with Permission

Working safely by preventing slips, trips and falls is very important. Falling down on the job could be dangerous especially in the construction industry. In this industry, falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. More injuries are the result of slipping, tripping and falling. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) statistics U S wide from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2012 there were slips, trips and falls that took the lives of 668 workers in 2012. Out of the 668 fatal falls, 437 workers or one in four fell from 10 feet or less. Another one-fourth of the fatal cases reported occurred from falls of over 30 feet. Many of these falls could have been eliminated if fall protection procedures and equipment were used.

Fall protection is defined as: A means of preventing workers from experiencing disastrous accidental falls from elevations. There are ways to prevent workers from falling depending on the job and equipment used.

Reducing or eliminating falls requires advanced planning, training, and job site surveys. Also, maintaining good housekeeping practices are essential. This minimizes the potential of slips, trips, and falls due to unnecessary items such as cords, pipes, and clutter on the floor in the work areas.

To eliminate major problems:
• Make sure walkways are clear and equipment is easily accessible.
• When working on scaffolds use guardrails and mid rails at each working platform level where open sides and ends exist.
• Always make sure toe boards are in place. This will provide protection for employees working below from falling tools or objects.
• When using equipment such as ladders, always have level footings. This will provide the ladder with a solid stable footing foundation eliminating falling due to unevenness.
• Always secure ladders so that when it is being used there is no chance for movement.
• Ladder maintenance. Check ladders for cracks, defects, and worn rungs.
• Do not climb to elevated levels where scaffolds or platforms should be used.
• Match the ladder to the job and follow safety procedures.

When employees are required to work at the edge of' a floor or roof, safety harnesses, lifelines, and lanyards are necessary fall protective equipment. These devices should be rigged to limit a fall to no more than six feet. Also, when using fall protection devices, they must be inspected daily before each use, and defective equipment must be replaced. Companies that supplies fall protection equipment can give you more information.

A new Fall Protection standard entitled, "Safety Standards for Fall Protection in the Construction Industry", was introduced by OSHA and became a regulation on February 6, 1995. It is now incorporated in the 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1926, in Subpart M Fall Protection. This regulation outlines the employer and employee responsibilities when it comes to Fall protection. (Contact your local OSHA Consultation Office for additional questions, and information). According to OSHA, full compliance with this standard is expected to save at least 79 lives per year and prevent 56,400 injuries a year.

Yes, working safely by preventing slips, trips and falls is very important. Falling down on the job could be dangerous and possibly disastrous. But preparing yourself with the right type of fall protection equipment, hazard identification for slips, trips and falls, training and advanced planning will reduce or eliminate incidents in these areas.


29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1926 - Subpart M Fall Protection

Slip Trip and Fall Prevention - Safety Training Video - youtube