Fall Protection - Industry Standards

 Texas America Safety Company
Fall Protection
Industry Standards

elkriver-logo.jpg It would be ideal if all fall hazards were eliminated from the workplace. However, since this is probably not possible, it is important to identify potential hazards before beginning a job. Whenever the possibility of a fall exists, a fall protection system MUST be in place to ensure the safety of the workers. Personal fall protection equipment can be classified into two broad categories: Fall Prevention equipment (FP) and Fall Arrest equipment (FA) .

Employees must be provided with personal protection equipment that is appropriate to the application for which it is to be utilized. The individual wearer is an integral part of the system and must be thoroughly trained in the proper use of the personal protection equipment. While personal fall protection is the primary focus of the efforts of Elk River, many products are also useful in Positioning (PO) , Suspension (SU) , or Retrieval (RT) applications.

(FP) - Fall Protection may be accomplished by either eliminating the fall hazard or by using a tether system. A tether system prevents the worker from reaching a point where a fall is likely to occur. The fall prevention system must be designed with extreme care as all possible hazards must be considered. An example of multiple fall hazards would be roof work where at least two edges present fall hazards. There are many Elk River products that may be used as part of the tether system and are indicated with the Fall Protection symbol (FP) .

(FA) is the least desirable method of fall protection but can quickly become the only available option. In spite of all efforts to eliminate fall hazards. Workplace falls continue to happen. In order to save lives and minimize injuries, proper equipment and adequate training are essential. A personal Fall Arrest (FA) system is required when workers are working at heights of more than six feet. The symbol (FA) identifies products that are rated for fall arrest.

POSITIONING (PO) (PO) products are designed to stabilize a worker in a safe working position while allowing free use of both hands. A personal fall protection system designed for Fall Arrest (FA) may also be required if the work is more than six feet above the ground. The symbol (PO) depicts products that may be used for positioning applications.

(SU) products are designed to suspend the worker, allowing performance of work tasks such as window washing, exterior building maintenance, bridge work, and emergency rescue. Products needed for suspension are noted by the (SU) Suspension symbol. (NOTE: Most suspension situations will require a Fall Arrest (FA) system also). 

RETRIEVAL (RT)(RT) products permit the worker to enter an otherwise unreachable area such as a confined space or assisting in rescuing a trapped or injured person. In areas where such hazards exist, OSHA requires that both a rescue plan and a confined space plan be established before work begins. The (RT) Retrieval symbol indicates products suitable for confined space and/or retrieval situations.

LADDER CLIMBING (LC) (LC) or ladder climbing harnesses are equipped with a front D-ring that provides an attachment point which is used with either a cable climbing system or a rail. Rail or cable climbing systems are found on fixed ladders, electrical distribution towers, communication towers, poles and other elevated structures. The symbol (LC) signifies harnesses that may be used with a climbing system.

PERSONAL FALL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT All fall protection systems consist of several essential components which include an anchorage point, a connecting device, and appropriate body wear, i.e., full body harness, waist belt or tree saddle.

HARNESSES A full body harness designed to permit the wearer freedom of movement as well as providing sufficient strength to arrest falls is the basic component of all personal fall protection. Technological advances now allow manufacturers to design and produce full body harnesses that are extremely strong, yet so lightweight, comfortable and easy to adjust that the wearer is barely aware of the device. Standard body harnesses continue to be available as well as the most advanced models.

ANCHORAGE OSHA defines Anchorage as "a secure point of attachment for lifelines, lanyards or deceleration devices". OSHA Subpart M, 1926.501 (15) states that "anchorage used for attachment of fall arrest equipment shall be independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms and capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2kN) per employee attached, or shall be designed, installed and used as follows: (i) as part of a complete personal fall arrest system which maintains a safety factor of at least two; and (ii) under the supervision of a qualified person."

CONNECTING DEVICE A connecting device is required between the harness and the anchorage. Elk River offers a variety of quality connecting devices such as several variations of Zorber shock-absorbing lanyards. The specific job site and job requirements dictate the selection of the proper connecting device.

DESIGNING A FALL PROTECTION SYSTEM The following generally accepted elements of fall arrest must be considered when designing a fall protection system:

      1. A rescue plan must be in place prior to beginning any job where fall hazards exist. The rescue plan must be well thought-out, planned, and training provided where all individuals involved thoroughly understand the rescue plan..
      2. If a fall hazard exists, each worker must wear a full body harness that distributes the arresting force of a fall arrest over the buttocks, hips and shoulders.
      3. For Fall Arrest (FA) applications, the attachment point of the connecting device to the harness should be positioned in the center of the back between the shoulder blades.
      4. OSHA mandates limiting free-fall distance to six feet or less. The potential free-fall distance should be as short as possible and must be calculated to prevent contact with the nearest surface or obstacle below.
      5. The arresting force or shock load of a fall arrest should be less than 1,800 pounds.
      6. After the fall arrest, the fallen worker must be held securely by the fall arrest system in as upright position as possible while awaiting rescue thereby making the person more comfortable and minimizing further injury. Furthermore, this position will facilitate rescue efforts.

All of these regulations are mandated to help prevent serious injury or death of workers who face potentially dangerous above-ground work situations.


Texas America Safety Company
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  Brownwood, TX 76801
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