Figuring out how to work on a roof without fall protection is easier than you think. Simply consider the task you are performing – whether that be maintenance, construction, or really anything else – assess the hazards, divide by the number of workers and factor in the use of personal protective equipment (adjusted for recent revisions to written policy) and you will find that without fail, every single time, you come to the same answer for how to work on a roof without fall protection: You don’t.
What value do you place on safety?
Safety has many enemies - budget, schedule, regulatory ignorance, and leadership indifference, to name a few – so maybe saying complacency is its worst enemy is a bit of hyperbole. Then again, maybe it’s not. Each of the examples I mentioned is lacking one key ingredient that sets complacency apart from the rest: a false sense of security. When money, time, or enforcement becomes an obstacle to safety, the workforce will usually know this. If they continue to do their job, it is probably with added measures of precaution. And, while heightened awareness alone does not make for satisfactory protection, it is better than nothing.
When considering fall protection solutions, people often consider Personal Fall Arrest Systems and rails as the only two options available. In some cases, that might be true, but in other cases it puts an undue burden on the person trying to come up with the solution by eliminating other safe, compliant options. In some cases, a Positioning Device System may be one of those options.
The following are five examples of places where this might occur.
This is an attitude most workers seem to have. And why not? No one goes to work, thinking, "I am going to get hurt today." Although it seems somewhat pessimistic, workers should be thinking "I could get hurt today, so I will take every precaution to prevent it." My husband, Russ, had the attitude "It won't happen to me". He woke up on the morning of November 8th, 1995, kissed me goodbye, looked in on Spencer, our two-year-old, and left for his job as a commercial painter. As soon as they got their spider unit (scaffolding) set up, management called everyone in for a safety meeting. This was considered nothing but an annoyance to Russ, but he signed the clipboard, and was just glad to come in out of the rain. He doesn't remember, to this day, what that meeting was about.
Anchor point selection can be difficult. For many safety professionals, it is a black and white area that offers no gray option in between. The rule says the anchor point must have the ability to support 5000 lbs. per person attached or it’s no good, right? Maybe not. Perhaps the reason that this belief is so widespread is that it’s the simplest way to enforce the rule. 5000 lbs., yes or no? Most people relying on safety personnel to interpret the OSHA standards will think it sounds plausible enough and find ways to be compliant. The catch is, though, that this is not exactly what the standard says. In fact, by following this cut-and-dried rule, you may be eliminating perfectly good anchor points in a situation where it’s already difficult to achieve proper fall protection.
Fall protection regulations can be confusing to begin with, but throw in a subpart that includes an exception to the rule and there’s bound to be people who get completely lost. To fully understand the requirements related to scaffolding fall protection, you must first understand the concept of vertical and horizontal standards.
How often have you seen workers in boom lifts with absolutely no fall protection? I’m willing to bet it’s pretty often. What those workers don’t realize (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they haven’t been properly trained), is that you are required to be tied-off the moment you step into the basket of a boom lift. How you achieve tie-off may vary, but you must always be tied-off. 29 CFR 1926.453(b)(v) states that “A body belt shall be worn and a lanyard attached to the boom or basket when working from an aerial lift.” Note that there is no qualifier to this statement – no height at which it kicks in, no type of work you need to be performing, no amount of time you will be in the basket. If you are working from an aerial lift, you must be tied off.
Railings are a great option for construction sites where things change on a daily basis. Some sites will opt to have their carpenters build the rails from scratch, but products exist that can save you money in labor as well as in materials since they can be moved and reused from job to job. How, though, do you determine which ones are right for your project