Putting Work-Related Falls Behind Us: The Application of Key Fall Prevention Practices and Guidelines

We’ve all seen videos and cartoons that feature silly slips and falls: Lucy pulling the football away as Charlie Brown aimed a kick; someone slipping on a banana peel; people slipping and sliding on icy surfaces; someone falling off a ladder, arms flailing wildly as they try to catch themselves. The truth is, falls are no laughing matter.

Workplace-related falls are the third leading cause of workplace death in the United States. Equally as alarming is the fact that they made up 22 percent of total unintentional deaths in 2018. There are similar trends north of the border, with over 40,000 Canadians experiencing similar injuries.

Keeping Things in Check: OSHA-Mandated Regulations

From a regulatory perspective, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published regulations to address these issues. Organizations are required to provide fall protection “at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations.” On top of that, companies are mandated to provide fall protection when workers work over heavy machinery and industrial equipment.

The Only Way Forward: Key Fall Prevention Guidelines

At the organizational level, companies should develop and execute a fall protection plan as well as conduct hazard assessments. On top of that, organizations should practice the following:

  • Provide PPE, including fall prevention harnesses and lines, as well as appropriate railings and fall prevention measures.
  • Cover floor holes using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover.
  • Supply rail and toe-boards wherever needed, specifically, around elevated platform, floor or runways.

Drive Change via Improved Fall Prevention-Focused Processes and Practices

By accessing ‘Don’t Get Tripped Up by Fall Hazards: A Fall Protection Checklist,’ you will learn:

  1. How to ensure that each worker and their environment is safe by putting checks and controls in place and making key observations about their physical and mental state (e.g. did you provide sufficient safety training, is there a disciplinary action in effect)?
  2. How to make sure that the guard rails meet minimum size requirements and can withstand minimum weight requirements (e.g. 200 pounds of force).
  3. What the specific vertical lifeline requirements are (e.g. can the anchor support 5,000 pounds, is there abrasion protection for lifelines).

Click here to access your checklist!

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