OSHA Fall Protection Standards for Industry
Pat Furr reviews the importance of following OSHA safety standards for fall protection, and the steps an employer can take to ensure a safe work environment by providing high quality training.
In the recent article by Mark Stromme, published in ISHN and on this blog, he addresses several myths regarding compliance with OSHA Fall Protection in the construction industry. Fact is, this wisdom applies to industry across the board.
It does not take long for an employer to realize that understanding the OSHA 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M standard is no quick and easy task. Fully adhering to this standard requires employers to complete a number of assessments, including the following:
- Evaluating areas that workers are exposed to fall hazards
- Developing work practices that eliminate or reduce the exposure to those fall hazards
- Selecting and installing suitable fall protection equipment
- Training employees on proper use of the equipment
- Inspecting and maintaining the equipment
- Developing rescue plans
- Re-evaluating the entire program on a regular basis
There’s no doubt, this can be a very daunting task – especially with all the other safety responsibilities we must deal with on a daily basis. But, I wanted to demonstrate that there is much more to providing a safe work environment for employees than handing them a harness and an energy absorbing lanyard.
Fall Protection Competent Person Essentials
One of the most important steps an employer can take towards developing an effective comprehensive fall protection program is to provide top quality training to their selected fall protection competent persons. By selecting the right person(s) for this position, the employer is assigning a degree of authority and expectations that the competent person will be very well versed in all there is to know about fall protection.
A common question we get from our former Competent Person students has to do with proper use of fall protection equipment. This is a critical function of the Competent Person, to provide the authorized persons training on the proper use of the selected fall protection equipment. As good as the equipment has become with modern materials, increased strength requirements, and functionality, we still are seeing equipment failures when subjected to forces they were not designed to see. If the authorized user is using the equipment outside the manufacturers’ instructions for use, that means the training has fallen short. No pun intended.
Roco’s Fall Protection protocol challenges employers and current competent persons to ratchet up their diligence in providing high quality training to the folks that are counting on them. Employers must seek out truly effective Competent Person training programs and avoid programs that are more interested in selling product than delivering the instruction that the students need. Once the employer is satisfied that the competent person has the appropriate level of knowledge and experience, they complete written documentation attesting to such as described in the following article.
Now the ball is in the Competent Person’s court. With support from the employer, it is of paramount importance that the competent person continues educating themselves on everything “Fall Protection.” Divide time between the OSHA and ANSI standards, new product information, fall protection “Walkabouts” at your facility, to include rescue provisions, and continuous monitoring of the work practices of the authorized persons.
There is always the need for continued fall protection training at every level. Make sure your team is properly trained and equipped to avoid injuries, fatalities, penalties or both. Check out Roco courses for Fall Protection/Competent Person by clicking here.