Due to the risk presented by accidental falls within the workplace, especially for those working at height or on elevated platforms, we have created this short guide to fall protection. Falls in the workplace can ruin the lives of those they affect, leaving physical injuries which means that the continuation of work is impossible. For companies they can also be damaging due to the financial costs which result when a fall occurs. Therefore the best policy is to ensure that appropriate measures are to taken to reduce the likelihood of a fall.
Fall protection is important for many reasons, it is a little known fact that falls are the greatest single cause of injuries and deaths within the workplace. So what can be done?
Measures to reduce the risk of falls in the workplace:
A good preliminary measure is to set the workplace up in such way as to prevent employees from falling, whether it be from elevated platform, or into any holes in either the floor or walls. Once this has been achieved, a further measure which drastically decreases the likelihood of a fall occurring is by providing adequate fall protection. There are some general guidelines here, it is advised that if working in a general industry workplace such protection is provided at an elevation of over 4ft, in shipyards it is 5ft and 6ft in the construction industry.
However, if employees are working above hazardous equipment or machinery, then adequate fall protection should be provided regardless of the elevation.
Here are some definite suggestions which can be taken to reduce the occurrence of falls in the workplace:
- Ensure that adequate and suitable safety protection is provided where required. This equipment includes, but is not limited to, safety harness and line, safety netting, stair railings and hand railings.
- Ensure that at the edge of every elevated, open sided platform, floor or runway a physical barrier is installed, such as a toe-board or a guard rail.
- Install either a toe-board, guard rail or floor hole-cover on or around any open holes in the flooring which employees may fall down, or accidently walk over.
- If there is a risk that an employee may fall onto hazardous machinery or equipment (examples include a conveyor belt or a vat of acid), regardless of height, then ensure that suitable protection is provided, such as toe boards or guard rails, to prevent employees accidentally walking or falling into these hazards.