The importance of fall protection

The importance of fall protection

Falls from height during work are a major cause of workplace deaths and injuries. In the USA  in 2019 711 fatal workplace falls to a lower level1 took place, and another 48.040 workers got injured after a fall to a lower level2.

Fall from height statistics

The above statistics show the need for safety measures, such as fall protection. Most of the accident reports tell us that the accident could have been prevented if proper safety measures were taken, if fall protection equipment was actually used and/or if workers received proper training for working at height. Many people, unfortunately, underestimate the risk of working at height. Especially relatively low heights. But falls from height generally have severe consequences. To raise awareness about the risks of working at height we’ve created an infographic about fall accidents and their consequences.

You can use this infographic to educate building owners, employers or employees about the risks of work at (any) height, as well as the consequences of a fall from height.

Preventing falls starts with proper planning

Falls from height are almost always preventable, either by preventing work at height, or by employing fall protection measures. Building owners and employers are required to provide safe workplaces free from known hazards. As proper planning helps prevent any health and safety incidents, a good place to start is the fall protection plan. In this plan you analyze the fall hazards of the worksite and write down the safety measures to prevent falls from height. You include both safety equipment as well as safety procedures.

Additionally you should also think about rescue procedures, should a worker become unwell at height, or if they are hanging in suspension when their fall was arrested by their equipment.

The side effect of fall arrest equipment

When working with fall arrest equipment the risk of a fall is still present, however, the equipment will stop the user from falling onto a lower level, or from hitting a lower structure. But what happens when a user’s fall is stopped? They hang in the air in their harness. Which brings us to an often debated, sometimes even controversial subject, Harness Suspension Trauma.

When hanging in a harness, the leg straps pinch off the veins in the groin area, disrupting the blood circulation. Which limits the oxygen supply to the vital organs, such as our brain and heart. As a result the person who’s hanging in suspension may feel lightheaded or nauseous and could even faint.

To alert employers (and employees) to the necessity of proper rescue planning we’ve written several blogs about Harness Suspension Trauma.

Sources:

1: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.t02.htm
2: https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/case/cd_r31_2019.htm

3 instructions to prevent HST after a fall arrest
Overlooked Fall Hazards

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