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Do You Have a Fall Protection Program?

Just this week the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (AIBH) reminded workers of the need to protect employees from fall hazards and other dangerous conditions.  Most of us have seen the reports from OSHA that falls are the most common cause of serious work related injuries and deaths.  Additionally, when employers are found negligent in providing proper fall protection they face serious fines and penalties.  To avoid these issues it is a fall protection program can be put into place.

fall protection program

As a reminder, OSHA requires the following:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk.
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment, employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harnesses and lines, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.

To learn more about fall protection products or implementing a fall protection program please contact FPS at 888-596-5367

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Fall Protection PPE Inspections

Fall protection PPE inspections are an important part of worker safety.  Just as you wouldn’t drive a car with a flat tire, you should not use PPE that is in need of repair or replacement.  Here are some general factors to verify when inspecting your PPE (personal protective equipment) prior to use.  If you have any questions regarding Fall Protection PPE Inspections please contact FPS at 888-596-5367.

Fall Protection PPE Inspections

Full Body Harness

First start with the hardware which includes the D-rings, buckles, keepers and back pads.  Inspect for damage, distortion, sharp edges, burrs, cracks and any type of corrosion.  Next, check the webbing of the harness.  Look for any cuts, burns, tears, abrasions, frays or excessive soiling and discoloration.  Stitching should also be visually inspected for any pulling or cuts.  Finally verify the labels are securely held in place and legible.

Lanyards

This inspection is very similar to a harness inspection.  Begin with the hardware (snap hooks, carabiners, adjusters, keepers, thimbles, and D-rings) looking for any damage, distortion, sharp edges, burrs, cracks, corrosion and proper orientation.  Next the webbing exactly as done with the full body harness (cuts, burns, tears, abrasion, frays, excessive soiling & discoloration) as well as the stitching.  Move on to the synthetic rope and inspect for any pulled or cut yarns, burns, abrasions, knots, or excessive soiling and discoloration.  If there is a wire rope inspect for broken wires, corrosion, kinks, or any separation of strands.  Lanyards with any type of energy absorbing component will need to be checked for any elongation, tears or excessive soiling as well.  Lastly, verify all labels are securely held in place and easy to read.

Hooks, Carabiners & Anchorage Plates

Inspect any hooks or carabiners for cracks, sharp edges, burrs, deformities and locking operation.  Also look for any corrosion that effects the operation and or strength.  Lastly, make sure any markings are legible.  With anchorage plates check fasteners for corrosion, tightness, damage and distortion.  If there are any welds, inspect for corrosion, cracks and damage.

Self-Retracting Lifelines

First, check the impact indicator for any signs of activation.  Next, inspect all screws & fasteners for damage and ensure they are tight.  Move on to the housing of the unit and look for any distortion, cracks or other damage.  Check the anchoring loop for any additional distortion or damage.  The lifeline will need to be inspected for cuts, burns, tears, abrasions, frays, excessive soiling or discoloration or broken wires.  The locking action should be tested for proper lock up of the brake mechanism.  Inspect the spring tension by pulling the lifeline out fully and allowing it to retract fully, there should be no slack.  Check the hooks and carabiners for any physical damage, corrosion, orientation and markings.  If there is a reserve lifeline be sure to inspect that one as well.  Finally, verify that all labels are legible and securely in place.

Checklist

For a complete checklist on fall protection PPE inspections provided by 3M Fall Protection download here.

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Fall Protection Inspection Reminder

Fall is here and many of our customers are booking their annual inspection.  This is your fall protection inspection reminder!  It is important to have your fall protection systems inspected annually to keep workers safe from falls.

fall protection inspection reminder

We offer nationwide inspections of FPS fall protection products as well as fall protection systems manufactured by outside manufacturers.  We bundle our inspections by geographical location allowing us to provide the most competitive rates in the industry.

Specifically our inspections will include:

  • Confirmation of the torque of anchor bolts
  • Verification of vertical support columns, if necessary will perform adjustments
  • Verification of level trolley beams
  • Check and tighten if needed; end stops, splice plates, u-clamps, boss bolts, & connector plates
  • Visually inspect welds for integrity
  • Evaluate trolley(s) for smooth traversing abilities
  • Inspect the condition of harnesses and self retracting lifelines.  If needed, swap out the parts on site

To book your session click here.

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Fall Protection Systems at APTA Expo 2017

Fall Protection Systems is pleased to be exhibiting at the APTA Expo 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  This year we are at booth #1619 and are pleased to be featuring a live product demonstration of our Safety Gate.  See the full show schedule here.

The safety gate is an affordable fall protection product that keeps railcar workers safe from falls while working inside the car.  Specifically designed for the mass transportation industry this lightweight gate is easy to transport and install.

In addition to the gate, Fall Protection Systems also has a wide array of product offerings to protect workers atop of the rail cars as well.  From single point attachment options, to overhead rigid rail designs and installations.  FPS is a one stop shop for everything fall protection.

APTA Expo 2017

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Walking Working Surface OSHA Requirements

A Review of Walking Working Surface OSHA Requirements

Did you know that there are about 350 fatalities each year among workers that are protected by OSHA’s walking working surfaces and fall protection standards?  Earlier in the year there were changes made to the walking working surface OSHA requirements.  Let’s take this opportunity to review the changes specifically for the general industry.

Walking Working Surface OSHA Requirements

Walking Working Surfaces

According to OSHA a walking working surface is, “any horizontal or vertical surface on our through which an employee walks, works or gains access to a work area or workplace location.”  To be in compliance with the standard it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure:

  • Surface conditions are clean, orderly and sanitary
  • Floors are maintained free of sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice
  • Employers must inspect, maintain and repair walking working surfaces as often as necessary
  • Hazardous conditions on walking working surfaces must be corrected or repaired.  If corrections or repairs cannon be made immediately, the hazard must be guarded to prevent employees from using the surface until repairs are completed

Ladder Safety Requirements

Falls from ladder account for 20 percent of all fatal and lost time work injuries in the general construction industry.  Here are the general rules for safety on ladders:

  • Ladders must be inspected before initial use in each work shift
  • Employers must ensure that steps and rungs of ladders are slip- resistant
  • Portable ladders are not moved, shifted or extended while under use
  • Top steps and caps are not used as steps and labeled accordingly
  • Fastening multiple ladders together is not allowed
  • Ladders cannot be placed on top of other items such as boxes or barrels to gain added height

Fall Protection Updates

Fall protection is defined by OSHA as “any equipment, device or system that prevents a worker from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.”  The update requires all employers to protect employees from fall hazards along edges that are 4 feet or higher above a lower level.  Here are the options for fall protection under the new rule:

  • Guardrail System – A barrier erected along an exposed side, edge or another area of a walking-working surface to prevent workers from falling to a lower level
  • Safety Net System – A netting system to stop falling workers before they make contact with a lower level or obstruction
  • Personal Fall Arrest System – Consists of a body harness, anchor, connector and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline or a combination meant to stop a fall before the worker contacts a lower level
  • Positioning System – Equipment and connectors that when used with a body belt or harness allows a worker to be supported on an elevated vertical surface and work with both hands free
  • Travel Restraint System – Combination of anchor, connector, lanyard or other means of connection to eliminate the possibility of a worker going over the unprotected edge or side of a surface
  • Ladder Safety System – A system attached to a ladder designed to eliminate or reduce the possibility of a worker falling; Cages and wells are not considered ladder safety systems

 

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Communication Tower Fall Protection

Three workers fell nearly 1,000 feet from a television tower in South Florida last week after a crane collapsed.  Had the workers been using communication tower fall protection, they would possibly still be alive today.

communication tower fall protection

The workers who fell worked for Tower King II and were pronounced dead on the scene.  They were working to replace the equipment at the top of the television tower.  Tower King has a history of OSHA violations, fines and even a previous fatality in 1984.  They were issued a willful citation in 2013 for not using safety nets upon appeal a month later the citation was reduced to serious an the fine was lowered from $15,400 to $5,000.

Enforcement of Communication Tower Fall Protection

Safety advocacy groups are outraged at the deaths of these three workers.  They feel this accident calls for strict enforcement of safety laws & regulations, especially in the communications tower industry.  There are claims that there have been more than 130 workers that have lost their lives since 2003.

Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), said the recent fatalities in Miami “are the most recent needless deaths in an industry where reckless actions by employers have cost the lives of scores of workers. We need answers and a full investigation, including an analysis of steps the employer took – or failed to take – to provide a fall protection system and to assess the structural integrity of the tower and related equipment.”

In 2014 OSHA sent a memo to employers regarding worker deaths involving communication towers.  It was sent as a reminder to the employers that they are responsible to provide proper training and fall protection systems to everyone working on a communication tower.

Fall Protection Systems is deeply saddened to learn about the news of this preventable tragedy.  If you have any questions about how to provide fall protection training or personal protective equipment for your workers on communication towers please contact us immediately.

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How Sleep Affects Worker Safety

Often overlooked is the amount of sleep workers get each night and how it affects worker safety.  This is a critical component to safety due to rising fatigue risks.

worker safetyA study that began in 2015 at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York is surveying what workers think about fatigue and if they can recognize the symptoms of it in their everyday lives.  The study is being funded by the Park Ridge, an Illinois based American Society of Safety Engineers.

According to Lora Cavuoto, an assistant professor in the university’s Department of Industrial and System Engineering, “fatigue is often overlooked in safety programs because it is hard to pinpoint the instant it happens.”

“If we think about fall risk, a dominating injury, you can see those points; you can see you have a worker at height and know the mechanism for solving that. It’s fall protection,” she said. “Fatigue is a little more subtle and in the background. Workers might not be aware they are feeling the consequences (of fatigue).”

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine have booth reported that a person that only sleeps four to five hours a day can be compared to an individual with a 0.08 blood level.

This fall, the Itasca, Illinois based National Safety Council will be releasing a fatigue calculator for employees.  This will help employers gauge not only how tired their employees are, but also what risks are created because they are fatigued and how it affects worker safety.

The study reports that in a survey of 2,000 employees 43% of them are not getting the sleep they need; 16% of them reported falling asleep while driving and 27% reported falling asleep on the job.

Interventions that currently exist to help learn more about fatigue at work and help employers are as simple as a questionnaire for workers on sleep habits, before and after an incident.  Training employees on the need to limit longer shifts and proper sleep are also ways to help prevent fatigue related incidents.

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2017 Top Ten OSHA Violations

The preliminary 2017 top ten OSHA violations list were released this week at the National Safety Council (NSC) Congress & Expo.  Not all violations for the year have been reported yet, but the list is not expected to change.   It is of little surprise that Fall Protection is still at the top of the list.

OSHA’s top 10 violations are:

  1. Fall Protection in construction (29 CFR 1926.501) 6,072 violations: Frequently violated requirements include unprotected edges and open sides in residential construction and failure to provide fall protection on low-slope roofs.
  2. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200) 4,176 violations: Not having a hazard communication program topped the violations, followed by not having or not providing access to safety data sheets.
  3. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451) 3,288 violations: Frequent violations include improper access to surfaces and lack of guardrails.
  4. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134) 3,097 violations: Failure to establish a respiratory protection program topped these violations, followed by failure to provide medical evaluations.
  5. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147) 2,877 violations: Frequent violations were inadequate worker training and inspections not completed.
  6. Ladders in construction (29 CFR 1926.1053) 2,241 violations: Frequent violations include improper use of ladders, damaged ladders and using the top step.
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178) 2,162 violations: Violations included inadequate worker training and refresher training.
  8. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212) 1,933 violations: Exposure to points of operation topped these violations.
  9. Fall Protection—training requirements (29 CFR 1926.503) 1,523 violations: Common violations include failure to train workers in identifying fall hazards and proper use of fall protection equipment.
  10. Electrical—wiring methods (29 CFR 1910.305) 1,405 violations: Violations of this standard were found in most general industry sectors, including food and beverage, retail and manufacturing.

Want to learn more about the 2017 Top Ten OSHA violations by territory?  Here is an interactive map that is updated weekly with violations & cases.

2017 Top Ten OSHA Violations

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Fall Protection Work Plan

Are you presently using a fall protection work plan?

A fall protection work plan is required whenever a worker is working at heights.  It is required by OSHA that this plan is available to all workers if a potential for a fall exists.  Anyone who is impacted by the possibility of the fall must be trained in all aspects of the plan.
fall protection work plan

Sample Fall Protection Plan

Download a sample fall protection work plan to learn more about the requirements that need to be met to keep workers safe.  The plan includes:

  • Job specific information
  • Fall hazards in the work area
  • Method of fall arrest or fall restraint
  • Assembly, maintenance, inspection, disassembly procedures
  • Handling, storage & securing of tools and materials
  • Overhead fall protection
  • Injured worker removal
  • Training and instruction program

To learn more about fall protection in the work place contact us at 888-596-5367.

 

 

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National Safety Council Expo 2017

Fall Protection Systems is pleased to take part in the National Safety Council Expo 2017.  We are exhibiting this year in booth #5860, if you are at the show be sure to stop by and visit us!

This year on display is our newest product, The Safety Gate.  Get a hands on demonstration of how this safety product is keeping maintenance workers safe in the mass transit industry.  It is lightweight, portable & easy to install in the openings of transit & subway cars.

Also at the booth, you will find our fall protection experts who are available to answer all of your questions regarding the fall protection industry and OSHA standards.  We are here to keep your workers safe and compliant.  If you would like to schedule an onsite visit, our technicians are available to come to your facility.  This ensure that all areas that require fall protection are addressed in the most cost effective manner.

National Safety Council Expo 2017

National Safety Council Expo 2017

National Safety Council Expo 2017

If you are not at the show this year, not to worry, we can still schedule your onsite analysis online here.

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