Fall protection training needs a particular focus in your company’s safety program.
Deaths from falling are higher in construction than in any other industry. Out of the 971 construction deaths in 2017, more than one-third (366) were from falls. The most problematic areas are roofs, ladders, and scaffolds, responsible for almost two-thirds of fatal falls. Hispanics are especially at risk, accounting for 39 percent of deadly falls even though they make up only 29 percent of the construction worker population. Small businesses with ten (10) employees or fewer should be particularly concerned about this issue: more than three in five falls (61 percent) resulting in death happened at these companies from 2011 to 2015, per the nonprofit CWPR.
You can help your crew protect themselves and others from getting hurt or dying in a fall. This overview enables you to craft a robust training program.
What Is Fall Protection Training?
Fall protection training is a form of instruction provided by a company to its employees to prevent them from injuring themselves in a fall.
Why Do You Need OSHA Fall Protection Training?
Understandably, companies are concerned that their training programs cover all OSHA fall protection requirements. OSHA, which stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a federal agency that ensures workers are adequately protected on the job. It does so by regulating companies, and one key aspect of compliance is training. When employees are working in areas with fall hazards, OSHA makes it clear that fall protection training is needed.
Why does OSHA require this form of training, though? Because it can take just a split-second for someone to fall, giving them insufficient time to react. Fall protection training is important because, quite literally, it saves lives. If the fall results in a death or a severe injury, it is not just a tragedy – and a potentially costly one – but has a negative ripple effect on worksite morale.
Safety planning will help you prevent deaths, as will providing fall protection equipment. Though, at the center of your efforts should be fall protection training, which will ensure that your employees safely use the equipment. With strong training, you will both mitigate risk at your worksite, express care to your workers, and comply with OSHA fall protection regulations.
3 Key Elements
Workers need to receive training on safely using and caring for fall protection equipment, scaffolds, ladders, and other equipment. They also need to know how to identify fall hazards. Ensuring everyone can set up equipment and use it safely will reduce the risk of falls.
As indicated by OSHA, these are the three core topics you should cover:
- Roof safety – Your workers should know how to use fall protection equipment and recognize fall hazards on the roof. Safety steps include the following:
- When using PFAS, workers should make sure the harness is working correctly and fits.
- They should tie off and maintain a connection at all points.
- They should verify the safety of every anchor point.
- Danger areas, such as skylights, openings, and holes, should be addressed.
- No one should walk on or sit on any skylights or openings.
- Scaffold safety – Workers must know how to use scaffolds and how to set them up safely. The following safety steps are critical to preventing falls from scaffolding:
- Scaffolds should be completely planked, and guardrails should be finished when setting up the scaffold. Plumbing and leveling must occur.
- Employees must be able to get access to scaffolds.
- Someone with a competent person fall protection certification needs to perform an inspection of the scaffold prior to use.
- No one should climb over a cross brace.
- No one should stand on top of guardrails.
- Ladders should never be used on scaffolds.
- Ladder safety – Workers need to understand how to use ladders safely. Key steps that should be taken are as follows:
- No one should walk under a ladder.
- No one should ever face out from the ladder.
- Overreaching should always be avoided.
- Confirm that three points of contact are maintained.
- Be sure the ladder is on level ground.
- Lock the braces at the ladder’s center to secure it.
Does Fall Protection Training Expire?
“How long is fall protection training good for?” many companies want to know. OSHA mandates that workers exposed to fall hazards must be trained. How often, though? The answer Is clear in the OSHA fall protection regulations.
Every two years, you need to provide new fall protection certification for competent persons. It is not necessary to redo training for authorized users. However, there are various scenarios in which you will need to reconduct training, as described within Section 1926.503(c). That section notes that new training is required when any trained workers lack the skills or knowledge to protect themselves. Specific scenarios that demand a fresh round of training include these three:
- When previous training is rendered obsolete by worksite changes;
- When previous training is no longer relevant because of adjustments to equipment or fall protection systems; and
- Whenever it becomes clear that a certain worker lacks retention of the understanding and skills necessary to use fall protection equipment and avoid falls properly.
Strengthening Your Training in the Workplace
Understandably, employees are not always excited about learning OSHA fall protection requirements. While the knowledge can keep them safe, compliance is not the most compelling subject. However, you can make the experience much more enjoyable and get much better results through participation. It will increase engagement and, in turn, help people in the class to remember safety tactics. To make your training as interactive as possible, these pointers can help:
- Don’t just lecture. That’s one-way instruction. Ask questions. Allow a moment for people to consider it. Then get answers from volunteers.
- Make it relevant. Relate topics to personal experience to help workers understand their relevance to them. Ask if anyone present has ever fallen from a ladder. What happened before and after the fall?
- Pull in all parties. Typically training sessions will have some crew members being more vocal than others. Ensure that all those receiving training get an opportunity to share their thoughts.
- Be sensitive. Learning environments can be stressful. Be sure not to make anyone feel silly or stupid for getting confused or asking a question.
Expertise In OSHA Fall Protection Training
Do you have fall hazards in your workplace? At AOTC, we have the experience and excellence you need, having worked with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance, and many more industry leaders. Contact us to discuss your on-site course options and schedule training today.