According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of death in the construction sector, responsible for 37.9 percent of total fatalities.
For this reason, fall prevention equipment and construction safety go hand in hand in preventing fatalities. Contractors and associated businesses need to put systems in place that can prevent injury from occurring.
Types Of Fall Prevention Equipment
There are multiple types of fall protection equipment and systems used in the construction industry. In this section, we discuss each in turn.
Airbags are perhaps the most effective fall-prevention equipment on the market right now. These are essentially giant airbags that sit underneath areas where falls are likely and can accommodate multiple, simultaneous falls. They are a superior solution to traditional foam blocks which can shift and separate over time.
Guardrails are cost-effective, easy to install, and don’t require any specialist training to use. You can set them up permanently or temporarily, anywhere on your site.
Safety gates are devices designed to prevent falls through various openings, such as platforms or holes in the floor.
In 2019, OSHA made safety gates a requirement. Single bars or chains are no longer compliant.
Safety nets catch workers who fall from ledges, scaffolding, or platforms. According to the OSHA, firms should only use them when:
- Workplaces are less than 25 feet above the ground
- Other safety equipment, such as safety lines, temporary floors, and catch platforms, are impractical
Toeboards are devices that prevent dropped tools or other materials from striking workers below. They should be:
- At least 3.5 inches tall
- Capable of withstanding a force of 50 pounds
Frequently Asked Questions
At what height is a harness required?
OSHA mandates that workers must wear a full-body harness (part of a Personal Fall Arrest System) when working on a suspended scaffold more than 10 feet above the working area, or when working in a bucket truck or aerial lift.
What are the 2 basic types of fall protection?
The two fundamental types of fall protection are travel restraints and fall arrest systems. Both need the use of a full-body harness. A travel restraint mechanism prevents you from approaching an unguarded edge too closely. The lifeline and lanyard have been changed so that you can reach the edge without falling over.
When should I use fall protection equipment?
When workers must operate at the edge of a hazard, but not at the exact point of danger, fall restraint systems are utilized. The length of the tie-off device must be shorter than the distance between the worker and the fall hazard. This prevents a worker from physically reaching the hazard.
Rope Grab Systems
Rope grab systems prevent workers wearing full-body harnesses from falling. Systems connect to an anchorage point and grip tightly on detection of a fall, preventing the fall from occurring.
Rigid Line Fall Arrest Systems
A rigid line fall arrest system uses a line connected to an anchor trolley that runs along an overhead track. As the worker moves horizontally, so does the line, preventing them from falling.
Flexible Line Fall Arrest Systems
Flexible line fall arrest systems work in the same way as their rigid counterparts but are usually set up temporarily. These systems can be taken down and set up on new sites, while rigid systems remain in place.
Personnel Riding Systems
Personnel riding systems, also called suspension riding systems, are useful for workers who need to operate on the outside of buildings. Operatives can raise or lower these devices to help workers get into the correct position.
Work Positioning Lanyards
Similar to personnel riding systems, work positioning lanyards hold workers in an elevated position under tension. Applications commonly include sloped roofs, tree surgery and work or street lighting.
Fall restraints refer to any device that prevents users from getting into a situation where a fall might begin. In most cases, construction companies erect guardrails and other physical barriers, as discussed above.
These restraints prevent workers from falling from, say, a balcony or the top of a building.
Fall Arrest Systems
Fall arrest systems comprise an anchorage, a harness, and a line connecting the two. Construction workers operating at height without fall restraints should always wear a fall arrest system.
There are many types of fall prevention equipment on the market and they are all necessary to prevent deadly accidents.
For more information on fall equipment and professional advice, get in touch with us today.