Fall Protection in the Construction Industry
In the construction industry in the United States, falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. Guardrails are the first line of defense in fall prevention. They should be installed along the open sides of any area where a worker may fall 6 feet or more. Areas to be protected include: floors and floor openings, balconies, stairways and landings, rooftops, runways and ramps, bridge surfaces, scaffolds and other work platforms.
In construction, eliminating the risk of falls may not be possible. It then becomes essential to select proper fall protection. Two basic types of fall protection are fall arrest and travel restraint systems. Travel restraint systems prevent falls by restraining a worker from getting too close to an unprotected edge. Fall arrest systems, which are more common, stop a person in mid-fall. These systems generally include full body harnesses, lanyards, rope grabs, lifelines, and anchors.
Fall arrest systems and travel restraint systems can only prevent fatal falls if they are used properly. No one should use these systems without proper training. Correct use includes inspection. Always inspect your harness, lanyard, shock absorbers and lifeline anchorage before every shift. Don’t use anything that appears damaged.
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