Many supervisors and workers assume they’re safe if they’re wearing fall protection. But to actually prevent injury, the right type has to be used in the right way. Here are OSHA’s guidelines for how to use fall protection, and a few thoughts of our own on factors to consider when it’s time to purchase new fall protection.
OSHA Fall Protection Guidelines
- Ensure that, when stopping a fall, fall protection will:
- Limit maximum arresting force to 1,800 pounds.
- Be rigged so that an employee won’t be able to free fall more than 6 feet or contact any lower level.
- Bring an employee to a complete stop and limit maximum deceleration distance to 3½ feet.
- Have sufficient strength to withstand twice the potential impact energy of a worker free falling a distance of 6 feet, or the free fall distance permitted by the system, whichever is less.
- Remove systems and components from service immediately if they have been subjected to fall impact, until inspected by a competent person and deemed undamaged and suitable for use.
- Promptly rescue employees in the event of a fall, or assure that they are able to rescue themselves.
- Inspect systems before each use for wear, damage, and other deterioration, and remove defective components from service.
- Do not attach fall arrest systems to guardrail systems or hoists.
- Rig fall arrest systems to allow movement of the worker only as far as the edge of the walking/working surface when used at hoist areas.
When It’s Time to Replace Your Protection
If you’re in the market for new PPE and are considering your options, you’ll want to look at how your fall protection is being used. Deceleration lanyard is cheaper and more popular for that reason, but it’s limited to instances where a worker has at least 20 feet of fall space. (Think about not only the length of the lanyard, but also the height of the worker and where the fall protection is attached. Lanyards also expand up to 6 feet when weight is dropped from them.)
Retractable can often be a better investment because it works in more situations — even instances where workers are at heights under 20 feet. It’s more expensive, but it may be the last you need to purchase.
If you need help deciding what type of fall protection would be best for you, feel free to give us a call at 864.905.7835.