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Ladder Falls Can Kill: Part 1

Proper ladder safety can prevent ladder falls and even death.  Falls are the leading cause of death in construction and every year falls from ladders make up nearly a third of those deaths. These deaths are preventable. Falls from ladders can be prevented and lives can be saved by following the safe work practices.

When Should You Use a Ladder?

When you want to reach a higher work area, think about the best equipment to use.  While a ladder or stepladder is commonly used, it may not always be the best option. Ask yourself these questions before deciding on a ladder:

  • Will I have to hold heavy items while on the ladder?
  • Is the elevated area high enough that it would require a long ladder that can be unstable?
  • Will I be working from this height for a long time?
  • Do I have to stand on the ladder sideways in order to do this work?

If your answer is yes to one of the above questions, consider using something other than a ladder. If possible, bring in other equipment like a scissor lift. If you have to use a ladder, use one that has a working platform with handrail barricades on the sides (e.g., a platform stepladder).

ladder falls

Use the right ladder for the job. For example, ensure the ladder is high enough for you to reach your work area without having to stand on the top rung.

ladder falls 02

When using ladders to access another level, secure and extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the landing point to provide a safe hand hold.

The base of the ladder should be secured and the user should be wearing proper footwear (non-slip flat shoes).

Place the ladder on stable and level ground.  DO NOT place it on an uneven surface and ensure that the ladder is fully extended before starting work.

Prevent passersby from walking under or near ladders in use by using barriers (cones) or using a coworker as a lookout.

Do not work on the top rung of the ladder.

ladder falls 03

Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times and do not carry tools or materials in your hands while climbing the ladder.

Do not lean away from the ladder to carry out your task.  Always keep your weight centered between the side rails.

Do not use ladders near doorways.  In the event that you must place it near a doorway, make sure the door is locked.


Download the full OSHA Stepladder Guide Here.


Product Highlight Roofer Fall Protection Kit

Product highlight roofer fall protection kit from DBI Sala.  Compliance in a Can™ is often imitated, but never matched. Protecta® pioneered the creation of a complete fall protection system available in a convenient container. The success of the original “can” spawned the creation of several variations with different anchorage devices and a light series. The light series includes a harness and some type of shock absorbing lanyard. This approach to fall protection simplifies the buying decision and makes choosing the correct system simple, fast and safe. Our easy to use kits provide the perfect solution and are legendary for their performance, value, quality and safety.

Product Highlight Roofer Fall Protection Kit

All purpose fall protection kit includes 1191995 FIRST™ harness, 1341001 PRO™ 6 ft. (1.8m) single-leg shock absorbing lanyard and carrying bag.


  • Complete all purpose fall protection system in one handy container
  • Lightweight FIRST™ harness with pass-thru buckle legs and 5-point adjustment (model 1191995)
  • PRO™ 6 ft. (1.8m) single-leg shock absorbing lanyard (model 1341001)
  • Durable nylon carrying bag with handles

OSHA Cites Construction Company

OSHA cites construction company after two workers fall on Washington Avenue in St. Louis earlier this year.  The two men were killed when they fell down an elevator shaft in a downtown building.  Joey Hale and Ben Ricks were cutting pipe from a suspended scaffold inside the Old Shoe Company building when they fell a total of six floors.

OSHA Cites Construction Company

Their employer World Wrecking and Scrap Salvage Services did not provide adequate fall protection, such as a vertical lifeline.  Additionally the company was found negligent for regular inspections of scaffold equipment, training workers to identify and avoid fall hazards, as well as properly ground the electric motor on the scaffold.

The total fines for these violations is $23,280.  They have 15 business days to comply or respond.


Speed Guard Fall Protection

FPS Product Highlight – Speed Guard Fall Protection is an OSHA compliant system that prevents transportation falls from trailer decks with a flatbed side rail system that can be set up in under 10 minutes on most trailers. Standard system includes rolling access ladder, safety rails and drop in pockets. Choose the clamp on system for trailers without stake pockets. Extension kit for 53 ft trailers available.

• Drop in rail system that installs in stake pockets to provide full perimeter fall protection for the bed of the truck.
• Rolling stairway allows for safe access to the trailer and storage of system between uses.
• Quick setup in less than 10 minutes.
• 53 ft. kit also available.

Speed Guard II

This solution integrates the same features as the original SpeedGuard™ flatbed side rail system with a more compact, easy-to-install and transport package.  The flatbed side rail solutions fit in standard trailer pockets and include all components necessary to protect trailers up to 48-ft long. (order extension kit to protect trailers up to 53-ft.) Installs in 10 minutes.

• Drop in rail system that installs in stake pockets to provide full perimeter fall protection for the bed of the truck.
• Easy mount ladder and gate fits in stake pocket.
• Rough terrain cart with flat free tires provides transport and storage.
• Quick setup in less than 15 minutes.
• 53 ft. kit also available.
• Clamp-on rail pockets for trucks with damaged or missing side rail pockets.

Speed Guard Fall Protection


Fall Protection Considerations

Here are a list of fall protection considerations to keep in mind for maximum fall protection safety and compliance in the workplace.

Warnings – Always read all instructions and warnings contained on the product and packaging before using any fall protection equipment.

 – All fall protection equipment must be inspected prior to each use.

Training – All workers should be trained by a Competent Person in the proper use of fall protection products.

 – Understand all Federal, State, Local and Provincial regulations pertaining to fall protection before selecting and using the equipment.

Rescue Planning – Minimizing the time between a fall occurrence and medical attention of the worker is vitally important. A thorough rescue program should be established prior to using fall protection equipment.

Product/System Preferences – If there are any doubts about which fall protection products to use, contact your product distributor or manufacturer directly.

System Components – Only components that are fully compatible with one another should be used. Fall arrest systems are designed and tested as complete systems and should be used in this way.

What to Do After a Fall
 – After a fall occurs, all components of the fall arrest system should be removed from service.

Call for Information – If there are any questions or concerns about your fall protection program or system, contact Fall Protection Systems at 888-596-5367.


Traumatic Brain Injury

When a worker falls from height they are at risk for a traumatic brain injury or TBI.  This is caused by an impact to the head.  It interrupts the brain’s normal processes.  When this occurs the results can have severe side effects or even death.  Even a mild traumatic brain injury can change the mental capacity of the victim it can last for an extended period of time or even cause permanent damage.

Traumatic Brain Injury

In 2013 there were over 2.8 million emergency room visits, deaths and hospital stays as a result of traumatic brain injuries.  Within the 5 years before that there were 50,000 deaths associated with TBI’s as well.

Slips, trips and falls can occur at any business but the risks are increased for employees working at heights.  It is the employer’s obligation to keep their workers safe from falls by eliminating them or ensuring proper safety procedures and equipment are in place.

To learn more about preventing falls in the workplace contact Fall Protection Systems at 888-596-5367.


OSHA Walking Working Surfaces

In November 2016, OSHA issued a final ruling on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (29 CFR 1910 Subparts D&I). These updated regulations are having a major impact on companies trying to maintain a compliant fall protection program.  It is critical for you to understand these new regulations, which went into effect on Jan. 17, 2017. The document is more than 500 pages and is difficult to process. Here is a quick recap including products available from FPS to address them.

Railguard 200

osha walking working surfacesThe regulation states that work at less than 6 feet from the roof edge requires conventional means of protection (guardrail, PFAS, etc.). From 6-15 feet, the new rule allows for a designated area for infrequent or temporary work, which are further defined in the commentary section of the rule.

Warning Line

osha walking working surfaces - warning lineSimilar to the construction regulations, a warning line is also required at 6 feet to serve as a warning that a worker is nearing an unprotected edge.


osha walking working surfaces - versagateThe regulation also excludes the use of chains to close access openings and no longer allows for a “parapet alternative” option – where a shorter (30-inch) barrier, such as a parapet, was allowed, as long as it had sufficient width (18 inches).




Workplace Assessment Requirements

One of the most significant requirements provided in the new rule is the need for the assessment of fall hazards. 1910.132(d) now requires workplace assessment, so employers must do the following to avoid non-compliance:

  • Determine whether hazards are present and, when present, communicate to employees, select types of PPE to protect employees, and ensure proper fit of equipment.
  • Coordinate with other entities to assess hazards for multi-employer sites.
  • Document the completion of assessments, including what workplaces were evaluated, who certifies that an evaluation was performed, and the date of the assessment.

Fall Protection Regulation Changes

Could fall protection regulation changes be happening in 2019?  The Washington Department of Labor & Industries, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, is considering changes to Washington’s fall protection regulations.  Specifically concerning the well being of construction workers.  This has been a topic of interest since 2013 when concerns surfaced by OSHA regarding state regulations for the construction industry in Washington.

fall protection regulation changes

Additional meetings have been scheduled for December.  During this time attendees will be educated on the current regulations.  Learn more here.

Injuries and or death from falls can be prevented with proper safety planning and training across all labor fields.  Fall Protection Systems is available to help answer any questions and or provide any products to help keep workers safe.  Call us at 888-596-5367 to learn more.


Winter Weather Safety


These winter weather safety tips have been put together by OSHA.

Winter Weather SafetyIn addition to cold stress, there are other winter weather related hazards that workers may be exposed to when performing tasks such as driving in the snow, removing snow from rooftops, and working near downed or damaged power lines.

Winter Driving

Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers: recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, for example, driving on snow/ice covered roads; are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles they operate. For information about driving safely during the winter, visit OSHA’s Safe Winter Driving page.

Employers should set and enforce driver safety policies. Employers should also implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate. Crashes can be avoided. Learn more at: Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA Safety and Health Topic’s Page).

Employers should ensure properly trained workers’ inspect the following vehicle systems to determine if they are working properly:

  • Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.
  • Cooling System: Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.
  • Electrical System: Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.
  • Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
  • Exhaust System: Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.
  • Tires: Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear. Check for proper tire inflation.
  • Oil: Check that oil is at proper level.
  • Visibility Systems: Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.

An emergency kit with the following items is recommended in vehicles:

  • Cellphone or two-way radio
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Tow chain
  • Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Road maps
  • Blankets, change of clothes
Work Zone Traffic Safety

Workers being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment lead to many work zone fatalities or injuries annually. Drivers may skid, or lose control of their vehicles more easily when driving on snow and/or ice covered roads. It is therefore, important to properly set up work zones with the traffic controls identified by signs, cones, barrels, and barriers, to protect workers. Workers exposed to vehicular traffic should wear the appropriate high visibility vest at all times, so that they can be visible to motorists (OSHA Letter of Interpretation, dated, August 5, 2009).

Learn more at: Work Zone Traffic Safety (OSHA QuickCard™) and Highway Work Zones and Signs, Signals, and Barricades (OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page).

Stranded in a Vehicle

If you are stranded in a vehicle, stay in the vehicle. Call for emergency assistance if needed, response time may be slow in severe winter weather conditions. Notify your supervisor of your situation. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and get lost in blowing and drifting snow. Display a trouble sign by hanging a brightly colored cloth on the vehicle’s radio antenna and raising the hood. Turn on the vehicle’s engine for about 10 minutes each hour and run the heat to keep warm. Also, turn on the vehicle’s dome light when the vehicle is running as an additional signal. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Do minor exercises to maintain good blood circulation in your body. Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. Stay awake, you will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems. Use blankets, newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation. Avoid overexertion since cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a vehicle can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.

Shoveling Snow

Shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity, particularly because cold weather can be tasking on the body. There is a potential for exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, or heart attacks. During snow removal in addition to following the tips for avoiding cold stress, such as taking frequent breaks in warm areas, there are other precautions workers can take to avoid injuries. Workers should warm-up before the activity, scoop small amounts of snow at a time and where possible, push the snow instead of lifting it. The use of proper lifting technique is necessary to avoid back and other injuries when shoveling snow: keep the back straight, lift with the legs and do not turn or twist the body.

Using Powered Equipment like Snow Blowers

It is important to make sure that powered equipment, such as snow blowers are properly grounded to protect workers from electric shocks or electrocutions. When performing maintenance or cleaning, make sure the equipment is properly guarded and is disconnected from power sources.

Snow blowers commonly cause lacerations or amputations when operators attempt to clear jams with the equipment turned on. Never attempt to clear a jam by hand. First, turn the snow blower off and wait for all moving parts to stop, and then use a long stick to clear wet snow or debris from the machine. Keep your hands and feet away from moving parts. Refuel a snow blower prior to starting the machine; do not add fuel when the equipment is running or when the engine is hot.

Clearing Snow from Roofs and Working at Heights

Employers must evaluate snow removal tasks for hazards and plan how to do the work safely. Workers should be aware of the potential for unexpected hazards due to the weather conditions, for example, layers of ice can form as the environmental temperature drops, making surfaces even more slippery. A surface that is weighed down by snow must be inspected by a competent person to determine if it is structurally safe for workers to access it, because it may be at risk of collapsing. Snow covered rooftops can hide hazards such as skylights that workers can fall through. Electrical hazards may also exist from overhead power lines or snow removal equipment.

Employers can protect workers from these hazardous work conditions, for example, by using snow removal methods that do not involve workers going on roofs, when and where possible. Employers should determine the right type of equipment (ladders, aerial lifts, etc.) and personal protective equipment (personal fall arrest systems, non-slip safety boots, etc.) for the job and ensure that workers are trained on how to properly use them. For more information, see OSHA’s Hazard Alert: Falls and Other Hazards to Workers Removing Snow from Rooftops and Other Elevated Surfaces.

Preventing Slips on Snow and Ice

To prevent slips, trips, and falls, employers should clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and spread deicer, as quickly as possible after a winter storm. In addition, the following precautions will help reduce the likelihood of injuries:

  • Wear proper footwear when walking on snow or ice is unavoidable, because it is especially treacherous. A pair of insulated and water resistant boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads which fit over your street shoes is a good idea during the winter months.
  • Take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction, when walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway.
Repairing Downed or Damaged Power Lines

Repairing and/or replacing damaged power lines in severe winter weather conditions are especially hazardous. A major hazard is snow, because the moisture can reduce the insulation value of protective equipment, and could cause electrocution. In these conditions de-energized work is safer, but if energized work must be done, qualified workers and supervisors must first do a hazard analysis that includes evaluating the weather conditions and identifying how to safely do the job.

Other potential hazards include:

  • Electrocution by contacting downed energized power lines, or contacting objects, such as broken tree limbs, in contact with downed energized power lines.
  • Fires caused by an energized line or equipment failure.
  • Being struck or crushed by falling tree limbs, collapsing poles, etc.

When working on downed or damaged power lines, electrical utility workers should use safe work practices, appropriate tools and equipment (including personal protective equipment (PPE)). Extra caution should be exercised when working in adverse weather conditions. Learn more at: Contact with Power Lines (OSHA Construction eTool).

Working Near Downed or Damaged power lines

Assume all power lines are energized and stay clear of any downed or damaged power lines. Establish a safe distance from power lines and report any incidents to the responsible authority. Only properly-trained electrical utility workers can handle damaged power lines. Learn more at: Contact with Power Lines (OSHA Construction eTool) and Working Safely Around Downed Electrical Wires (OSHA Fact Sheet).

Removing Downed Trees

Clearing downed trees is a critical job during severe winter weather conditions. It is usually urgent to remove downed trees that block public roads and damage power lines. Emergency crews are often tasked with clearing downed trees.

Potential hazards include:

  • Electrocution by contacting downed energized power lines or contacting broken tree limbs in contact with downed energized power lines. Learn more at: Line Clearance Tree Trimming Operations (OSHA Electric Power eTool).
  • Falls from heights.
  • Being injured by equipment such as chain saws (Chain Saw Safety (OSHA QuickCard™)) and chippers (Chipper Machine Safety (OSHA QuickCard™)).

Workers should wear PPE that protect them from the hazards of the tree removal tasks. Workers using chainsaws and chippers to clear downed trees should use: gloves, chaps, foot protection, eye protection, fall protection, hearing protection and head protection.

Only powered equipment designed for outdoor and wet conditions should be used. Use all equipment and tools (saws, chippers, etc.) properly and for the purpose that they are designed for. Ensure that equipment is always maintained in serviceable condition and inspected before use by a knowledgeable person that can identify any problems with the equipment. Do not use equipment that is not functioning properly. Equipment must have proper guarding (as applicable); safe guards must never be bypassed.  All controls and safety features must function as designed by the manufacturer. Learn more at: Tree Trimming and Removal (OSHA QuickCard™).

OSHA is a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador committed to working with NOAA and other Ambassadors to strengthen national preparedness for and resilience against extreme


Happy Thanksgiving 2018

Fall Protection Systems would like to wish everyone a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.  Our offices will be closed from Thursday, November 22nd through Sunday, November 25th.  Should you have a fall protection emergency, please contact us at

happy thanksgiving 2018