What Type of Fall Protection is Most Beneficial to Productivity?

Three men working in fall restraint

You have employees that work at height. This will require two or more team members working at the same time. You want them to work safely and prevent injury, but fall protection limits productivity with requirements for training, supervision, and equipment inspection.

How do we create a safe and compliant work environment while maintaining high levels of productivity?

OSHA offers us several options.

General Industry:

  • 1910.28(b)(1)(i): Except as provided elsewhere in this section, the employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by one or more of the following:
  • 1910.28(b)(1)(i)(A): Guardrail systems;
  • 1910.28(b)(1)(i)(B): Safety net systems; or
  • 1910.28(b)(1)(i)(C): Personal fall protection systems, such as personal fall arrest, travel restraint, or positioning systems.

The OSHA Hierarchy of Controls helps us prioritize these options. OSHA identifies the lowest form of protection as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), or more specifically a Personal Fall Protection System (PFAS) used in fall protection.

This type of fall protection requires personal inspection before every single use along with training, supervision, inspections, and ongoing certification. PFAS include a hard cap on the number of users in a given area, usually 1 – 4, which can significantly limit the amount of work that can be done at any given time. That’s a lot of additional work, and that’s before the project even begins!

The next category is Administrative Control that offers a change to the work, typically using rules to increase the distance from a hazard. These rules have to be designed, written, and reviewed for each activity and then continual instruction must be delivered so employees can follow them, tying them up in training instead of completing the work. Supervision is required, tying up personnel that could otherwise help with the task. Like PPE, productivity is hampered by these additional requirements.

Collective Fall Protection, classified as an Engineering Control in the Hierarchy, engineers physical barriers that prevent a fall from happening in the first place. Construction guardrail systems like Guardian’s G-Rail or Parapet Clamps offer collective protection that’s easy to set up, tear down, and can be reused from work area to work area. Permanent systems like KeeGuard or KeeMark can be left in place for decades, securing a work area for any number of employees and enabling high levels of long-term productivity.

Safety and productivity do not have to be competing priorities - Collective Fall Protection offers the best of both. Physical barriers prevent an accident from happening in the first place, while passive performance enables high levels of productivity. This also delivers a high Return on Investment (ROI) by offering reusability or long-lasting performance life, while liability is significantly reduced by removing the opportunity for unsafe behaviors, providing long-term value regardless of staff or work changes in the future.

Your team doesn’t have to be limited by PFAS – select appropriate engineering controls and enable high productivity while protecting your company’s profitability and reputation. If you need help working that out, Simplified Safety consultants are ready and willing to support you. Let’s get to work!

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