How often do you pass a work site only to see an employee very clearly violating a safety protocol? Just the other week I saw a roofing contractor tied off to a lanyard that was dangling to the ground. Far from being a fall prevention measure, his misuse of safety equipment was actually making the job site more dangerous!
Safety should be considered a priority in EVERY worksite. Accidents on the worksite can be avoided if everyone in the company is aware of the common worksite safety issues. Everyone in the company should come together to create a worksite that is safer as well as more productive.
Every business has common safety standards and rarely are they all addressed. This situation is known as “the elephant in the room”. One way to avoid this problem would be to make sure that all issues are identified and proper intervention is discussed.
Common Worksite Safety Issues
No Fall Protection Training and Faulty Equipment
All employees whose tasks involve the risk of a fall must undergo fall protection training on a regular basis. The training courses which are provided by the employer, must aid employees identifying fall hazards and familiarizing them with the fall protection devices and equipment that is used.
Fall protection devices must be inspected before each use by qualified personnel. In addition, they must also be inspected annually to ensure the the device is in proper working order.
Availability of Personal Protective Equipment or PPE
Equipment must be worn at work for the purpose of reducing employee exposure to any occupational hazards. Such safety equipment must always be made available on site. The employers are responsible for the provision of PPE on the worksite.
PPE comes in the form of hard hats, goggles, ear muffs, hand gloves, gowns, and boots. These can help protect the employees from occupational hazards like falling objects, burns, dust, and head injuries.
Workers who are assigned to work on scaffolding must be properly educated and trained. They must be aware of the environment that they work on as there are a lot of hazards such as: possibility of becoming electrocuted with the power lines, being hit by falling debris, and falling due to the unstable platforms used in the job. Such hazards can lead to serious injuries to the workers.
Suspended Scaffolds must be properly lined with guard rails. The guard rails will prevent the workers from falling from the open side, it has also been standardized that the scaffold and all of its components must be made capable of supporting at least four times the maximum intended load.
Some ladder safetycommon protocols include, checking the load rating (always include the weight of tools and equipment you are using), verifying the surface point extension (minimum 3 feet above surface point), and making sure to always maintain a 3 point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) on the ladder when climbing. Ladders should also be inspected for any damages or signs of wear and tear on the hinges, side rails, feet support, and steps.
Although applying to laboratories and chemical plants, hazards typically happen on worksites. Communication is key when trying to prevent hazards. Employers can promote hazard communication through safety training which will help educate the workers to look for potential hazards. All employees should have access to safety training materials. This information must be in a language, or perhaps a format, that that is easy to understand by all personnel.
Worksites deal with all types of hazards. OSHA has categorized these as part of their Hazard Communication Standard.
Be Safe At All Times!
It cannot be denied that there are definite risks involved when working on site. However, such risks can be prevented as long as proper information is disseminated, proper training is provided, and proper safety devices are made available.
Employers need to establish a fall protection plan (OSHA required) and hold regular safety huddles to promote open communication between workers which can mitigate risk. Workers should hold their employers accountable for all safety issues that are not being addressed.
For memorial day our family is headed to San Francisco to take in the sights. I was doing some research and came across this movie produced by Bethlehem Steel, one of the primary contractors for the Golden Gate Bridge. The movie itself is facinating, but I've embedded it at 20 min. 35 sec. where it starts to talk about the fall protection methods that were used in the construction of the bridge.
You'll be amazed at the fall protection methodologies employed, and even in spite of these measures 24 people died during the bridge's construction.
I think you'll agree that fall protection has made a lot of progress over the year. OSHA and other organizations have helped to introduce standards that make work safer. As you celebrate Memorial Day, remember the men and women who gave their lives in their line of work. Remembering their loss may help us to be more proactive about creating safe working environments so that more families can spend next Memorial Day together!
Self-retracting lanyard/lifelines are popular devices among professionals who work at height. These fall arrest systems can save lives but they can also be dangerous if used improperly. The use of an SRL can seem easy, as it's basic functions are just like a seat belt, but it is important to pay attention to proper use.
Here are some safety precautions to be aware of when using a retractable:
Where is the best place for using an SRL?
Retractable lanyards are designed to arrest free falls within inches. The best place to use a SRL is overhead. A SRL can also attach to overhead anchor points or moveable overhead lifelines like the Tether Track by Gorbel.
When is it OK to use a retractable at your feet?
Use precaution when considering this, the SRL must remain in vertical position and cannot lay on its side or it will effect the fall distance. You will need the shock pack to absorb the additional fall energy and a cable line to resist damage from a leading edge. The retractable should clearly be marked as certified for use on a leading edge.
What is a leading edge, and what features are important in an SRL when working on a leading edge?
Leading edges are dynamic environments. They are the edges of floors, roofs, decks or other walking-working surfaces which move or change location as additional sections are constructed. For example, each time a piece of plywood is placed on floor joists, the relative position of the unprotected edge changes. "Unprotected sides and edges." Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
Be aware of recertification requirements.
Some retractables need recertification and some don't -- consult manufacturer's instructions for details on your SRL. A good practice would be to conduct frequent maintenance of your retractable, this will help to extend product life time, and help ensure product functionality is maximized. Self Retracting Lanyards/Lifelines are designed for rugged use. However, they are mechanical devices that may require service at some point during their use life. All SRLs should be serviced after a fall has occurred. Find out what is required from your retractable manufacturer and plan accordingly.
Are rescue plans are still required when using an SRL?
A rescue plan should always be in place before using fall protection equipment. Always make sure you and your employer have carefully reviewed and signed off on the plan prior to work.
Problems to Watch Out for Using Self Retracting Lanyards
A swing fall can occur using a retractable with an anchorage point that is not positioned directly overhead, a swing fall or pendulum effect will occur. Striking an object while swinging can cause serious injury or death. Since self-retracting lifelines allow for greater horizontal and vertical mobility than standard six foot shock-absorbing lanyards, extra care should be taken to reduce swing falls.
Whether you are using a shock-absorbing lanyard or self-retracting lifeline, it is extremely important to position your anchorage point directly overhead whenever possible to minimize the risk swing falls.
Bad habits and lack of supervision can lead workers into thinking their experience with different types of equipment is adequate. Some workers think that it is OK to mix different equipment components to their systems to achieve a lightweight or low-cost design (Eg. using mountaineering snap hooks and harnesses in an industrial fall arrest system). This type of misuse is dangerous and should be monitored.
Equipment Mixing and Matching
A personal fall protection equipment system should be designed, tested, and supplied as a complete system. Both the employer and employee should understand that equipment components of a system may not be interchangeable. Ask your safety supplier or contact the manufacturer for further questions regarding your fall protection equipment system.
Locking and Breaking Hazards
Roll-out can occur when a non-locking snap hook is unintentionally mated to an attachment point. Accidental disengagement or roll-out can result when the force of a fall arrest rebounds back up through the lanyard/lifeline depressing the gate and allowing the snap hook to pop loose or "roll-out".
"The snaphook or carabineer shall be capable of withstanding a minimum load of 220 pounds without the gate separating from the nose of the snaphook or carabineer body by more than 0.125 inch when tested in accordance with Section 188.8.131.52. The gate of the snaphook or carabineer shall be capable of withstanding a minimum side load of 350 pounds when tested in accordance with Section 184.108.40.206. Failure shall be defined as permanent deformation of the gate more than 0.125 inch, or separation of the gate from the body of the snaphook or carabineer body by more than 0.125 inch."
According to OSHA, construction industry use doesn't require heavy duty gates, although it is a requirement for general industry use.
Precautions to take against roll-out with non-locking snap hooks:
- Never attach two snap hooks together
- Never attach a snap hook back on it's own lanyard (unless it's a certified tie-back lanyard).
- Never attach a snap hook directly to a horizontal lifeline
- Never attach two or more snap hooks to one D-ring
- Never attach a snap hook to a webbing loop or webbing lanyard
For more information on safely using an SRL please feel free to contact us via phone or email. View our selection of Self Retracting Lifelines and Lanyards.
One of the most versatile pieces of fall protection equipment is the double tie off lanyard, also known as the Y-lanyard. This new breed of lanyard has become a popular choice among safety professionals in recent years. The Y-lanyard attaches two lanyard legs to a shock absorber and snap hook, which can allow for workers to move horizontally from one area to another while being continuously attached.
Advantages of using Y-lanyards
- Ability to bypass obstructions while remaining attached
- Avoidance of attaching two separate lanyard snap hooks to a single harness D-ring
- A one-piece device with easy handling
- Has one shock absorber for both legs
- The second leg can be stowed to avoid dragging or hanging when attached
Why Double Tie Off Lanyards are so Important
Recently a high steel rigger fell to his death at the AT&T Center Arena in San Antonio, TX while striking a show at 2:00 AM. Witnesses said he had detached himself from the fall safety line while repositioning himself and lost his footing while moving around a beam. A late load-out can be dangerous as fatigue can play a factor in clarity of thought and situational awareness.
The rigger was identified as Dean Williams, 44, from Houston, Texas. He leaves behind a wife and 3 month old daughter.
Accidents like this can be avoided if you wear a double tie off lanyard.
Y-Lanyard Safety Features:
- Reduced Fall Risk - Lanyards are designed to reduce the impact from a fall. They come in a variety of features. They may be single or double leg, shock absorbing, self retracting, and fall restraint. By adding a second leg to the device, there is a reduced risk of falling.
- Constant Attachment - A worker using this device can be constantly attached to an anchorage point.
- Bypass of Obstructions - Since both legs of the double tie-off Y-lanyard are utilized, a worker can maneuver around obstacles easily without having to detached and risk falling.
Reminders on the Use of the Y Lanyard
- The snap hook at the Y lanyard's stem should always be attached to the harness attachment or D-ring.
- One should not try to extend the lanyard's reach by attaching a leg to the harness and the other end to the anchor. This will just result to greater fall distances that may cause serious injury or even worse, death.
- The leg of the lanyard that is not in use should only be connected to the harness' attachment points, which have only been approved by its manufacture for its intended use. This unused leg should not be parked in the harness D-rings. This can add to the body's load in case of an accidental fall.
- While in use, the y lanyard or any lanyard for that matter should not be passed between legs, around the neck or under the arms.
Serious injuries and death from falls can be minimized if employers will practice strict safety measures in a workplace. Falls can efficiently be prevented by means of double tie off lanyards that come with additional protection.
A man named Joe, who worked for the same roofing company for 25 years, fell through the skylight pictured above to his death. He was not wearing any fall protection and the skylight was not protected in any way. California's Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) put together this short video to honor Joe's life to remind us all that safety is not about statistics, but about real people who do not go home at the end of the day. On average 16 people die at work every day in the United States. That number is too high! This video will inspire you to work safer in any environment, but especially on roofs, working around unprotected skylights.
This Could Have Been Prevented with Skylight Fall Protection
As the video points out there are several types of fall protection available for protecting skylights.
The most popular skyilight fall protection option is the skylight screen. The skylight screen is designed to connect to the outside of the skylight and form a protective barrier when people trip or fall into the skylight. The screen will prevent the worker from falling through the skylight, saving their life and protecting them from a potentially fatal fall.
Another option for protecting a skylight is to use a guardrail system that forms a protective boundary around the skylight screen. Skylight guardrail, like Kee Dome, is designed to be non-penetrating so it will not cause any problems with the roof.
Further options, such as temporary weighted anchor points are available for the contractor who has to access the roof in many locations on a limited basis.
Connect with our solutions team to learn more about skylight fall protection solutions.