Some of you who are reading this article may remember the "Pre-OSHA" days, where it was commonplace to take certain risks on the job. Perhaps at that time the action wasn't even considered to be a risk, but simply part of the job. Working at an elevation without proper protection, barriers and training was the norm. And if you remember this "Pre-OSHA" time you probably are aware of an incident or two that could have been prevented with the safety programs/requirements in place today.
December 29, 1970 OSHA was set in place, and with it have come many rules and regulations for an array of industries, meant to keep employees and workers safe. OSHA states that before its existence "an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job every year. Today, workplaces are much safer and healthier, going from (at the time) 38 fatal injuries a day to 12." (OSHA Statement) So what does OSHA's existence and today's topic of fall protection have in common?
Currently falls are still among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. Clear regulations have been set in place such as:
Fall protection must be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces. Six feet in the construction industry. etc.
Fall protection is required when working over any dangerous equipment, machinery or chemicals, regardless of the fall distance.
Every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk into, should be guarded.
Guard rail and toe boards should be in place around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
Employers are required to:
Keep working conditions free of known dangers.
Keep floors in work areas clean and dry as far as possible.
Provide required PPE
Train workers about job hazards.
With all of these regulations set in place, what can an employer and the individual employee do to reduce injury or even death? Simply follow the rules. Don't take needless risks with your life and the lives of others. It may be an inconvenience to change your tie off positions every few feet, or cumbersome to wear certain types of PPE, or dull to sit in classes that review these hazards, but these are in place for good reason. The numbers show that when these rules are followed we have less and less people becoming a yearly statistic.
Do you remember "Pre-OSHA" days? What changes have you seen? Benefits?