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WorkSafe BC Video on Scaffolding Fall Protection

Every year workers die because they fall from unprotected scaffolds. This WorkSafe BC video covers the basics of fall protection on scaffolding.

Basic Overview of PPE

The following safety huddle topic is an overview of OSHA personal protective equipment for the construction industry. All information has been extracted from OSHA 29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart E. This information is for informational purposes only. Employers should always create a written policy that supports a comprehensive PPE program and conduct regular trainings specific to the safety equipment used in their workplaces.

The key to selecting the appropriate PPE is the proper identification of all hazards in a workplace that may cause harm or injury to an employee. All PPE is listed to protect employees from very specific hazards. Research the differences between classes of PPE and make a selection based on their rated capacities. As an example; an employee works near a furnace operation. You would not want to just buy shaded safety glasses. By consulting Table E-1, you will find that the employee needs safety glasses with class 7, 8, or 9 protectors. Always research all forms of PPE before purchasing and employing for service.

Criteria for personal protective equipment:

  • Application- protective equipment including eyes, face, head, extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reasons of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation, or physical contact.
  • Employee-owned equipment- where employees provide their own equipment, the employer shall be responsible to assure its adequacy, including maintenance, and sanitation.
  • Payment for PPE- PPE shall be provided by the employer at no cost to the employee, except:
    • non-specialty safety-toe equipment and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear
    • when an employee provides their own adequate equipment that the employer permits the employee to use
    • when an employee loses or intentionally damages the equipment

Occupational Foot Protection:

  • Safety-toe footwear for employees shall meet the requirements and specifications in ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Z41.1-1967.

Head Protection:

  • Protective helmets shall be required in areas where employees are in danger of head injury from impacts, falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock or burns.
  • Helmets shall meet requirements set forth in ANSI Z89.1-1969.
  • Helmets for employees exposed to high voltage electrical shock and shock shall meet ANSI Z89.2-1971.

Hearing Protection:

  • Use table D-2 in OSHA 29 CFR 1926, Subpart D for defining permissible occupational noise levels.
  • Always eliminate or mitigate noise hazards and limit duration of exposure to noise hazards when possible.
  • Wherever it is not feasible to reduce the noise levels or duration of exposures to those specified in Table D-2, ear protective devices shall be provided and used.
  • Ear protective devices inserted in the ear shall be fitted or determined individually by competent persons.
  • Plain cotton is not an acceptable protective device.

Eye and Face Protections:

  • Employees shall be provided with eye and face protection equipment when machines or operations present potential eye or face injury from physical, chemical, or radiation agents.
  • Eye and face protection shall meet ANSI Z87.1-1968.
  • Employees whose vision requires the use of corrective lenses in spectacles shall be protected by goggles or spectacles of the following types:
    • Spectacles whose protective lenses provide optical correction
    • Goggles that can be worn over spectacles
    • Goggles that incorporate corrective lenses mounted behind the protective lenses
  • Face and eye protection shall be kept clean and in good repair.
  • Use Table E-1 in Subpart E as a guide in the selection of face and eye protection for the hazards and operations noted.
  • Protectors shall be comfortable, fit snugly, be durable, be capable of being disinfected, and easily cleanable.

Protection Against Radiant Energy:

  • Use Table E-2 for selection of shade numbers for welding operations.
  • Use Table E-3 for selecting safety glass for laser operations.

Working Over or Near Water:

  • Employees working over or near water, where the danger of drowning exists, shall be provided with U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or buoyant work vests.
  • Prior to and after each use these protective devices will be inspected for defects.
  • Ring buoys with at least 90 feet of line shall be provided and readily available for emergency rescue operations.
  • Distance between ring bouys shall not exceed 200 feet.
  • At least one lifesaving skiff shall be available for employees working near or over water.

Refer to Subpart M for all standards pertaining to fall protection equipment.

Respirators is an extensive subject that will be addressed in a future Safety Huddle article.

All Tables and standards can be accessed at:

Harness Inspection Video

Inspecting your harness is critical to ensuring that you are safe while working at heights. Tomcat, a staging lighting and support system company, has released a video that covers four basic inspection steps to go over before wearing your harness.

When does my walkway need an ADA compliant handrail?

There are three major areas of concern for ADA compliance. Once you have established that your facility needs to be ADA compliant, the three areas of concern are stairs, ramps, and landings/raised walkways.

  1. Stairs: All stairs that fall under ADA compliance must have compliant handrail (ADA 4.9.1). This means that it does not matter whether you have one riser or ten risers, you need railing on both sides of the stair(s)
  2. Ramp: Any ramp that has a rise greater than 6 (inches) or a run greater than 72 (inches) needs to have ADA compliant handrail.
  3. Landings/Raised walkways: Any surface that has a drop off needs to have curbs, walls, railings,
    or projecting surfaces that prevent people from slipping off the edge. ADA leaves the size of the drop off to the interpretation to the reader or more properly to the inspector. A good general rule of thumb is 6 (the height of a ramp requiring a handrail), but check with your local inspector to verify.

When does my facility need to be ADA compliant?

According to the ADA Code of Federal Regulations, anytime your facility falls under one of two categories, ADA compliance is necessary. These categories are as follows:

  1. Places of public accommodation (business that have store fronts, restaurants, hotels, public buildings and parks, government housing, etc)
  2. Commercial facilities that need to be accessed by people with disabilities.

These categories include most buildings except private residences and businesses that have neither front door access nor people with disabilities as employees. Lets use an example to help bring this home.

Example 1: You own a shipping/receiving business that has 10 employees. None of your current employees are disabled and your building does not have a store front that would be accessed by your customers. Your facility does not need to be ADA compliant. However, as soon as an employee is hired that is disabled, your facility (to the extent that it would need to be accessed by such individuals) would need to come into compliance with ADA. This would include your parking lot, restroom facilities, sidewalks, water fountains, public telephones, and, of course, the building itself.

Example 2: You own the same shipping/receiving company with the same 10 employees. Instead of hiring a disabled worker, you decide to turn your front entryway into a reception area where customers can come in and conduct business. Your facility (to the extent that it would need to be accessed by such individuals) would then need to come into compliance with ADA.

Falling into Workplace Safety

OSHA reports that falls are the most frequent cause of fatalities at construction sites and annually account for one of every three construction-related deaths. Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics states there were at least 442 construction worker fatalities during 2007 as a result from falls. This is a staggering statistic. Contractors have to emphasize the importance of fall protection standards and fall protection systems. Fall hazardsare always a main focus of OSHA inspectors.

Frequently issued fall protection citations include:

  • No guard rails at open sided floors
  • Floor opening not covered or guarded
  • Wall openings not guarded
  • Wire rope guard rails deflecting more than 3 inches

The best plan of action for preventing or altogether eliminating hazardous falls includes:

  • Eliminating the need to work off of the ground (ideal)
  • Fall prevention systems
  • Fall arrest systems
  • Warning lines
  • Safety monitoring
  • Administration of fall protection policies

Major aspects of OSHA 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart M

  • Fall protection must be in place for work areas 6 ft. or higher
  • Walking and working surfaces must be inspected prior to work
  • Surfaces must be strong enough to support workers
  • Guardrails must be 42 inches (plus or minus 3 inches) above working surfaces and capable of supporting 200 pounds
  • Body belts are no longer an acceptable means of fall arrest
  • The employer shall provide a certified training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards

In the beginning.. Simplified Safety’s Genesis

Where We Came From

In January of 2006 we launched a web site called Simplified Building Concepts. This site sold industrial pipe fitting that were used to build various kinds of tubular structures. A primary usage for Kee Klamp fittings is the construction of handrails and guardrails. Through the last couple of years we found ourselves engaged in more and more safety related projects. This led us to the decision to launch an entire web site that was dedicated to safety.

Where We Are Going

This site is focused exclusively on safety products. Here are a couple of things that we're hoping to accomplish through this web site:

  • Create an Extremely Usable Web Site - For a lot of other companies their web site is an after thought -- not for us. The web is the primary interface we have with our customers. Knowing this has motivated us to have an industry leading web site that is second to none in features and usability.

  • Provide Focused Product Knowledge - Have you ever called an industry supplier only to realize that they know nothing of the product that you have questions about? Yeah, we know! That is why we hope to provide you with customer service staff that understand the safety products that we are selling on our site. Our staff is constantly learning more about the safety industry. In addition to being sales people, some of our staff also operate as trainers. So go ahead, ask your safety questions, chances are if we don't know the answer, we'll know just where to find it.

  • Uphold Strong Customer Relationships - If you're calling us just to get the lowest price, you might spend your time better by calling someone else. We do want to be competitive, but we also want to form strong relationships with customers who value the additional services and expertise that we have to offer.

  • Maintain Real Customer Service - Everywhere you go, you hear about customer service these days. The question is: is it real? Is it a marketing slogan and a line on the web site, or is it real. At Simplified we believe in action over talk. If you do not have a great customer service experience, please contact me (Chris Pollock), I'll want to know about it.

Simplified Safety is Looking for Guest Bloggers

If you are a safety professional and youre interested in sharing your industry knowledge and promoting yourself online, please contact us about becoming a guest blogger.

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Simplified Safety is Coming Soon

Were making progress on our new web site.  We are looking for guest bloggers.  If youre a safety professional and youd like to share your safety knowledge, please contact us.

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