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OSHA National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction

National Safety Stand Down

With the coming of warmer temperatures in most of the country comes an increase in construction activity.  Unfortunately, if history teaches us anything, with increased construction activity comes increased worker injuries and fatalities.  Falls continue to top the list of fatalities in construction year after year, so OSHA has once again decided to roll out its “National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.”

For the past few years, OSHA has led this effort to get employers to talk to their workers about the hazards of falls and the administration’s desire to reach increasingly larger numbers of workers has been paying off.  The Stand-Down reached 2.5 million workers last year for the first time and now OSHA hopes to double that number.  If successful, they will be reaching half the construction workforce in the United States.  This year the National Safety Stand-Down runs from May 2nd to May 6th.

The event is voluntary and is whatever you make of it.  This is your opportunity as an employer to take time out from your busy
schedule and talk to your workers about falls.  Help them understand, through a tool-box talk, equipment inspections, a training class, or some other safety-related activity that falls kill – all too often. Make them understand how severe the consequences of one mistake can be, find actual incidents to relate to them to make it personal, let them know the cost – in life ­– that fall protection violations can incur.  In other words, make them understand – pun intended – the gravity of the situation.

We have a ton of safety resources and articles on this site to help your employees understand fall hazards.  Take advantage of them, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  Signup on the email list, and we’ll make sure you get them in your inbox on a weekly basis.

Don’t assume that your workforce knows and understands this just because you believe it to be common sense.  The idea of common sense is a fallacy.  Common sense is learned information, not something we’re born with, so if somebody has been learning something incorrectly his or her whole life then “common sense” could easily get them killed.  Taking the time to have this conversation will be well worth not having to find a body on the ground, to not have to look into the eyes of a grieving spouse and children, to not have to counsel your workforce on how to handle the traumatic death of a friend and co-worker.  Taking the time to have this conversation is well worth the value of saving somebody’s life.

There was a time where death was an accepted side-effect of construction.  That time is long gone.  Many companies now understand that their people are their greatest resource, but I say forget that.  You should be operating safely and training your workforce not because your people are a good resource for your company, but because your people are just that: people.  Human life is not an expendable commodity.  If you are in a position to protect it, then you should make every effort to do so.  If you’re not already making those efforts, then don’t wait for the Stand-Down.  You can start saving lives today. 

To find ways to participate, see what’s been done in the past, or share your story, go to https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/.  Once complete, you will be able to download a certificate of participation.  And don’t stop at your own employees.  Spread the word on Social Media using the hashtag #StandDown4Safety.  Your voice could convince another employer to participate.  Your voice could save lives you never thought you could affect.

I Believe I Can Fly – Operating a Boom Lift Without Fall Protection

Emergency Snow Loads – Are You Prepared?

If you’ve been trained in Aerial Lift operation (if you’re operating aerial lifts at all, then you should have been), you should already know that fall protection is required, according to OSHA and according to the lift manufacturers.  But why?  You’re completely surrounded by rails, right?  Why is it different than a scissor lift?  Sure, you’ve heard the rumors that a bounce or a bump can catapult you from the basket, but is that really true?  Well, let’s go to the videotape:

Unfortunately, videos like this aren’t all that difficult to find on the internet.  They’re probably as easy to find as a construction site with boom lift operators that aren’t using any personal fall arrest systems.    It’s a common sight – from maintenance crews changing light bulbs in a shopping center parking lot to sign installers, to construction workers, a great number of them don’t know…or don’t care…that they’re supposed to be “tied-off”.   In fact, I’d venture to say that from a purely anecdotal standpoint, boom lift operators that properly utilize fall protection are in the vast minority.

This could be for a number of reasons.  Sure, it could be the “it won’t happen to me” mentality, but more than likely there are other factors: lack of concern on the company owner’s part which translates to lack of training, and lack of proper equipment is probably the most common reason.  Lack of oversight by somebody who is properly trained is probably another.  Being rushed for time contributes, I’m sure, as it does for many workplace safety violations and incidents.  Regardless of the reason, it is all too common and, as we can see here, extremely dangerous.

As you can see from the above video, it really doesn’t take all that much.  Sure, you might know not to drive off a curb, but what about a small pothole you hadn’t noticed?   When you’re operating a boom lift, you’re probably at least 40’ away from the base of the machine if not a great deal more.  How can you be 100% positive that your surface is flat…and solid?  You should have done a walk-around of the machine and checked out the ground where you’ll be working, but people make mistakes.  People miss things.  Ground conditions change.  Voids collapse.  Machines have to be moved further than planned.

What if we take our own mistakes out of the equation altogether?  This type of incident doesn’t just occur from driving off a curb or into a depression.  Construction sites can be crowded places.  If that loader backs into your lift, or if that crane accidentally drops a load on your boom, or any number of other things, you can be thrown.  Most of the lifts I’ve seen used in parking lots to change bulbs have no traffic control around them and the parking lots are active.  If a car or truck loses control or isn’t paying attention to where they’re going, the same results will occur.

The fact of the matter is this:  accidents can and will happen.  It is up to you to protect yourself and your workers as best as you possibly can.  This includes being compliant with OSHA regulations, and possibly going above and beyond their requirements.  You can find out more about what you need to be compliant in our previous article found here.  Read it, buy what is necessary, train your workers, and enforce your safety program before one of your employees ends up like the man in this video.

Harness Saves the Day - Or Does it?

Emergency Snow Loads – Are You Prepared?

Go to You Tube, search any topic, and you’re bound to come up with videos showing what you’re looking for.  Fall protection situations are no exception.  With a little searching, you can find videos showing good examples of fall protection, bad examples of fall protection, complete lack of fall protection, or even videos which appear to show fall protection saving the day.

Appear to.  I say this because, on the surface, the lives and well-being of workers are preserved.  There is no discrediting this.  But, sometimes, that isn’t the whole story.  Let’s take the following video for example:

Here we have a couple of workers who have climbed a scaffold in order to cut away a piece of steel.  Steel falls, hits the scaffold and knocks it over, but the men are saved by their harnesses.  And there was much rejoicing.

But wait, let’s take a closer look at this video from start to finish, because I have some serious concerns. 

1. How well was this planned?

Okay, sure, we’ve got harnesses, lanyards, and an anchor point that apparently worked, but why did this piece of steel strike the scaffold in the first place?  In the video, you can clearly see a tag line of sorts tied around the piece of steel they are cutting – all the way to the right.  When the piece falls, there is nothing on the left to help pull that steel away from the scaffold.  The right side is already cut, so when the side they are currently cutting gets weak enough, the beam falls away.  The tied side stays away from the scaffold as intended, but in doing so, causes the left side to crash back into the scaffolding.  If somebody had taken the time to look at the situation, this should have been readily apparent.

2. Sometimes doing the bare minimum isn't enough...

I have to make some guesses about scaffold dimensions here because I obviously can’t measure it, but OSHA regulations say that any scaffold 4x higher than the least base dimension must be secured to the structure.  Judging from the height of the men, I’m going to say those are 6’ high sections of scaffold, 3 bays high – totaling 18’.  I’m going to assume the least base dimension is 5’ for arguments sake, front to back.  So, in order to be in compliance, if the scaffold was 20’ or more in height they would be required to have it secured to the structure.  Fine, they have not reached that point so they are compliant.

But look at the work they’re doing.  Wouldn’t it be prudent, knowing you will be dropping steel to the ground, to take as many safety precautions as possible?  Why NOT secure the scaffold just in case something like this were to happen?  In the safety world, we cannot base our preparations only on those things that are definitely going to happen, or even those things that are likely to happen, but on the actual worst case scenario.

Now, I do understand that this is a steel beam with a lot of weight.  Perhaps if the scaffold was secured to the structure it still would have been torn from its anchors or, if the anchors held, it might have broken into pieces.  Who knows?  But what we do know, is that without it, the scaffold was quickly and easily toppled.

3. What now?

Ahhh.  Now, here is the one that concerns me the most.  What now?  Judging by the gentlemen that enter the frame at the end of the video, there isn’t much of a rescue plan in place.  While everybody is straining their arms patting themselves on the back at how well the personal fall arrest systems worked (and they did, again, I am not taking away from that), these workers could start to experience suspension trauma at any moment (as written about here).  Suspension trauma can occur in in a matter of minutes and, while everybody was happy to see that nobody fell, the suspended workers are in the process of losing a leg – or even their life.  Now, in this particular video, the scaffold doesn’t go too far away.  Maybe the workers will be able to right themselves so they can wait to be rescued without danger, but maybe they won’t be able to.  Maybe in another minute, that scaffold falls away completely.  There is no way to know.  In other scenarios, that scaffold could have crumbled to the ground or the suspended worker could have been knocked unconscious, rendering him incapable of helping himself in any way.  Rescue plans are of the utmost importance.  Just saying, “We will call 911” doesn’t always resolve the problem.  They may not be able to get to you or may not have the equipment and training needed to perform a rescue.  A great way to rescue the workers in this situation would be via a boom lift, but I’m going to assume that if they had a boom lift present they would have cut the steel from it (since the body of the machine at ground level could have been kept far away from the falling steel).  If no lift is available, these people are left to devise a rescue plan in a matter of minutes while the workers’ lives literally hang in the balance.  No pressure.

Now, I don’t want to look at just the bad.  Again, the men seem to be properly wearing their harnesses.  The lanyards quickly arrest the fall, keeping the workers from experiencing more force to their body than the allowable MAF and they seem to have chosen a suitable anchor point that didn’t come crashing down around their heads.  This is all good, but if we only look at the good, we learn nothing.  Plan ahead, determine if the OSHA regulations (a bare minimum) are enough to protect your workers, and be ready to rescue them in the worst case scenario because, as is evident by this video, sometimes the worst case scenario does happen.

Are People Walking Around Blindfolded on Your Job Site?

Are People Walking Around Blindfolded on Your Job Site?

Perhaps you decided to read this because you thought, "Of course not!  Everyone knows that is a crazy dangerous, not to mention non-productive." However, studies show that walking and texting are pretty much akin to walking blindfolded.

Isn’t this Just Common Sense?

Researchers at Stony Brook University (study published in Gait & Posture) confirmed what many think is common sense in a study of young people walking while texting or talking on mobile phones. The study showed that “cell phone use among pedestrians leads to increased cognitive distraction, reduced situation awareness and increases in unsafe behavior.”  In short, it’s dangerous to walk and text!

As a baseline, the study participants were shown a target on the floor 25 feet away. Then with their vision obstructed, participants were instructed to walk at a comfortable pace to the target and stop. The researchers recorded time and accuracy observations of each of the 3 walks each participant completed.

A week later, one-third of the group completed the same task with obstructed vision focusing them on a mobile phone, one-third while talking on a mobile phone, and one-third while texting.  Eric M. Lamberg, PT, Ed. D., co-author of the study, remarked, “We were surprised to find that talking and texting on a cell phone were so disruptive to one’s gait and memory recall of the target location.”

The study concluded texting or talking while walking phone slow task completion significantly with 33% and 16% respective reductions in speed. Additionally, texting participants veered off course demonstrating a 6% increase in lateral deviation and 13% increase in distance traveled. Another study by Jack Nasar, an Ohio State University professor, reports emergency room visits due to pedestrians injured while walking with cell phones have soared in recent years.

Mobile Devices on the Construction Site

Mobile device usage on a construction site places your workers in danger and reduces productivity. Construction sites are inherently fraught with more danger than streets and sidewalks. So the dangers pointed out in these studies are miniscule compared to what mobile device users face in a construction zone.

You may not have a policy against working blindfolded, but you probably do have a health and safety policy against operating machinery, driving, or even being present on a job site while intoxicated. Texting has the same effects as intoxication when it comes to multi-tasking.  It is the safety professional's duty to Increase safety and productivity by establishing and enforcing a written mobile device usage policy.

Developing a Mobile Device Usage Policy

Tips to develop your mobile device usage policy:

  • Prohibit mobile device use including talking, texting, emailing, browsing, gaming, or use of any other feature while engines are running on any kind of motor vehicle or machinery. Note that this includes company-provided and personal devices.
  • Require any mobile device usage to be done outside the work zone. This may require additional signage at work sites.
  • Provide tips for safe mobile device usage and etiquette anywhere. Examples include to pick your spot carefully when you stop walking to text.
  • Distributed a written policy to all employees
  • Require each employee to sign off on the policy.
  • Enforce the policy.

Continue the discussion: How do you balance mobile device safety with the productive use of mobile devices on the job site?

A Simple Guide To Shock Packs & Lanyards

Lanyard Shock Packs

During fall arrest your body needs a way to reduce the amount of force, and that happens through a shock pack. Shock packs can be added to your personal fall protection system as an extension lanyard, and as part of a single or double leg lanyard. In addition, shock packs can also be integrated with a retractable. Here are some questions to help you determine if you need a shock pack and which one will work best for your intended use.

Shock Pack Basics

  • A shock pack can be part of a shock absorbing lanyard
  • This part of the lanyard is deployed during fall arrest
  • Shock packs must be inspected after each deployment
  • Shock packs can be purchased for different weight types (Heavy Duty, etc)

Does your fall protection plan require you to wear fall restraint or fall arrest equipment?

A non-shock absorbing lanyard is only good for restraint. A lanyard needs a shock pack when it will be used for fall arrest. The shock pack helps absorb the kinetic energy that is created by a body in freefall.

What is the weight limit for shock absorbers?

Shock packs are designed for different types of weight. A standard shock absorbing lanyard (lanyard with a shock pack) is made from 1'' nylon or kevlar webbing which is both lightweight and durable. The maximum weight limit for a standard shock absorbing lanyard is 310lbs. All Guardian shock absorbing lanyards have a clear shock pack for instruction and inspection.

A heavy duty shock pack or HD is required for heavy users (>310 lbs with tools) up to 420 lbs. HD shock packs are also needed when you are tying off at foot level (Normal 310 lbs user only) with a 12' Max freefall.

Shock Absorbing Lanyards

A shock absorbing lanyard is a staple of any personal fall arrest system. Shock absorbing lanyards are designed to keep arresting forces on the body to 900 lbs. or less. In addition to the configurations shown below, lanyards are available in almost any length up to 6' and with nearly any hook combination.

  • Tiger Tail Stretch Lanyard
  • Non Shock Absorbing Lanyard
  • Internal Shock Safety Lanyard
  • Big Boss Freefall Lanyard

General contracting company Rudolph and Sletten put together a video that demonstrates how a shock absorbing lanyard can help during fall arrest. The first test included a 6 foot shock absorbing lanyard, 220 lbs of dead weight, attached to a top cable with a 7 foot freefall.

The second test included 2 shock absorbing lanyards, 440 lbs of dead weight, also attached to a top cable. This test simulates 2 employees at the center span falling at the same time. On test #3 the two shock absorbing lanyards were hooked to the bottom cable with 440lb deadweight. For test #4 one four foot lanyard was attached to the top cable with 220lb deadweight.

Do you need a new lanyard?

All fall protection equipment should be inspected prior to each use. In addition, you will need to get your shock absorbing lanyard inspected after a fall has occurred. According to Guardian Fall Protection, some areas that will be checked during the inspection are listed below.

Shock Pack Basics

  • A shock pack can be part of a shock absorbing lanyard
  • This part of the lanyard is deployed during fall arrest
  • Shock packs must be inspected after each deployment
  • Shock packs can be purchased for different weight types (Heavy Duty, etc)


  • Broken, Missing, or Loose Stitching
  • Termination (stitch or splice or swage)
  • Webbing Length
  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Holes
  • Deterioration
  • Paint Damage

Shock Pack

  • Integrity of Cover
  • Signs of Deployment
  • Signs of Damage

Connectors & D-Rings

  • Function of Connector Locking Gate
  • Body of Hook or Rivets
  • Corrosion
  • Pitting
  • Nicks

Label & Markings

  • Legible Label
  • Appropriate ANSI/CSA/OSHA Markings
  • Date of First Use

During fall arrest, having the right equipment can decrease risk and potential injury. To find out more about equipment options for fall arrest, please contact our sales and support team at Simplified Safety. We have a variety of shock absorbing lanyards to fit your individual needs.


Do People Really Die from Falling through Skylights? YES!

Do People Fall Through Skylights?

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.

Skylight Screens

Skylight Screen

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.

Skylight Guardrail

Skylight Guardrail

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.

Railing Built with Fittings vs. Fabricated Pipe Railing

A video released by Kee Safety covers the many differences between welded railing and pipe railing that is constructed with pipe railing fittings. Please watch the video to learn about these critical differences.

The Difference

Pipe railing constructed with Kee Klamp and Kee Lite pipe fittings is superior to fabricated railing for several reasons:

  • It installs easier than welded railing.
  • It last up to seven (7) times longer than fabricated railing.
  • It can easily be repaired if it is damaged.
  • It does not pose the same health and safety risks of building fabricated railing.
  • It can be installed by a standard laborer, reducing the dependance on specialized laborers.
  • This list goes on. Watch the video above for more details.

Click here to learn more about our OSHA compliant pipe railing systems.

Cross posted from Kee Klamp Pipe Railing vs. Fabricated Railing on Simplified Building Concepts

KeeGuard Rooftop Railing is “Super Easy to Install”

KeeGuard Railing Installation - SW

These photos come from a KeeGuard rooftop railing install from one of our recent customers. We were pleased to hear them comment on how easy it is to install the system. This comment focuses on one of the core strengths of the KeeGuard rooftop railing system: ease of installation.

KeeGuard Railing Installation - SW

This system was put into place as a part of a complete fall protection plan. This railings primary purpose is to protect people entering exiting the roof hatch in the picutre.

KeeGuard Railing Installation - SW

Installation of KeeGuard rooftop railing is "super easy" for a couple of reasons:

  • Uprights Arrive Preassembled - while they are not attached to the counter-balances to preserve shipping space, the drop in fittings are already properly spaced saving precious time during installation.
  • Kee Klamp Fittings - the KeeGuard roof railing used Kee Klamp fittings. These fittings are tightened though the use of an allen key making installation move quickly and easily.
  • Engineered for Efficiency - because each KeeGuard system is engineered by our sales team, we use a minimum amount of materials to save cost and installation time.

Installation Video

Watch this quick overview of KeeGuard installation. This will show you how quickly and easily the KeeGuard Rooftop Railing system is to install.

It won’t happen to me?  Think again about ladder safety!

Video can be such a pain! Especially when it catches you ignoring a safety regulation. Unfortunately we all know that the "It won't happen to me!" mindset keeps many people from practicing the proper safety procedures. Perhaps on the statistical levels, people often do dangerous things without being hurt, but who wants to be the exception! Don't be the exception in the statistic? Practice the proper tie off procedures when working at heights!

OSHA Animated Video for Fall Protection

OSHA is making their way into the heart of the You Tube Generation with a series of new animated safety videos. The video above focuses on the dangers of the leading edge and will hopefully we used to help people understand the real dangers of working at heights.

Find out more about these animated safety videos on the OSHA website.

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