Working at or around a place with a risk of falling is classified according to standard safety regulations as ‘working at heights.’ For industrial and commercial employers operating in the United States, OSHA rules require that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in long shoring operations.
Whether your workers perform their duties at heights regularly or only intermittently, it is critical to keep safety in mind at all times. It only takes one misstep to turn a regular task into a disaster, and it is imperative that your organization has a comprehensive fall protection plan in place.
Here are ten safety guidelines for working at heights:
1. Choose the Right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Conduct due diligence and determine what PPE workers will need to stay safe before the job begins. It is crucial to be comfortable, but it is also critical to adjust harnesses and safety equipment to ensure a proper fit and function.
2. Check Your PPE
Anyone using the PPE must understand how it works, what is acceptable for safety, and what to do if something goes wrong. Here are some important considerations when choosing fall protection equipment.
3. Invest in the Proper Tools for Working at Heights Safely
Fall protection systems, like harnesses, are not one-size-fits-all. Thus, it would be best to know what equipment is the best fit for the duties required at your facility.
4. Use Hand Railings
Use hand railings whenever possible. The easiest and most common technique to keep your workers safe is to use safety railings, which provide passive protection in a variety of ways. Remember that stair railing heights have standards that need to be met!
5. Choose an Anchor Point
Remember that an anchor point is only suitable if developed and certified by a professional engineer or can carry a 5,000-pound load without difficulty.
6. Understand Fall Distance
It does not matter how much fall protection equipment you have if it does not protect you from impact. Before employing any system, make sure to calculate the minimum distance for fall clearance correctly.
7. Know When and What type of Fall Protection is Required
When evaluating when and what fall protection is required per OSHA mandates, there are three elements to consider:
- Infrequent: Work that gets done at least once a month or less.
- Temporary: Easy tasks, done in a matter of two hours or less.
- Location of Work: Scan the area if there are possible hazards nearby.
8. Use Aerial Lifts Appropriately
When operating an aerial lift, several things can go wrong. Thus, it is critical to ensure that aerial lifts are used correctly.
9. Utilize Ladders Properly
Take into account whether or not you need a ladder before starting a task. Once the job is assigned, ensure that your personnel receives adequate ladder training.
10. Conduct Training
Employees must undergo an initial orientation if they are expected to work safely and securely at heights. The possibility for error and confusion as a result of lack of training is high. Compliance is only one part of the equation. Proper training is essential for success.
Ultimately, preparation, education, and determination are absolutely essential for working safely at heights.
Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about what you can do to reduce workplace injuries at your facility.