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Osha’s Focus Four: Fall Hazards

In my first blog, I shared my opinions of OSHA’s Focus Four. In this blog, and future blogs, I will share an experience with each of these topics. This blog will be related to falls. The leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. I consistently encounter poor maintenance and storage of fall protection on job sites.

Fall protection, is an essential piece of personal protective equipment that can determine life and death. I am frequently encountering this vital equipment being miss cared for and improperly stored. I have found harnesses and lanyards stored in the bed of trucks, floor of vans, and in gang boxes under tools and equipment. I have also seen harnesses, lanyards, and temporary cross arm strap anchors left on structures, resulting in exposure to the elements: heat, rain, freezing temperatures, and direct sunlight. All these things can potentially result in deadly damaged equipment.

Harnesses, lanyards, and anchor points should be stored in a clean, cool, dry place. Hanging your equipment will prevent it from getting crushed, bent, or torn. Chemicals can cause the material to degrade and sharp tools can slice the webbing. Your storage location should be in an area that is not in direct sunlight or exposed to a heat source. Ultraviolet light can cause the material to break down and fail. Fall protection is personal to the user.  That’s why it is important to ensure nobody else has access to your fall protection. I have seen companies have employees share fall protection. I disagree with this. Each employee should have their own equipment.

Fall protection will always be a vital part of our industry. Being proactive and making the effort to care for your fall protection equipment has many values. Equipment that is in good condition will protect your employees if they were to fall. Also, the money saved from not having to frequently purchase new equipment. Next time you’re on a job site, look at how the fall protection equipment is being cared for.

Alex Edwards