When you think of common workplace accidents, falls are probably not at the top of the list. However, they account for a large percentage of on the job injuries and in some industries a fall equals a likely fatality. Anytime someone has to work on an elevated surface, there is a danger of a catastrophic fall.
In order to protect employees from these situations there are many things a company can do to reduce this risk including the use of fall protection systems. While safety harnesses, , guardrails, anchors, and lifelines go a long way toward reducing injuries and deaths on the worksite, without proper training many of these pieces of equipment are virtually useless. Anyone whose job requires them to perform work at a height of six feet or higher (according to OSHA) should be aware of the dangers, how to best avoid them and how to properly use safety equipment.
Fall Protection Training
Comprehensive training ensures workers understand what constitutes a fall hazard, how to avoid falls and how to correctly use fall protection equipment.
Here are a few of the components that employers should include in a fall protection training program in order to be compliant with OSHA and ANSI regulations.
The company may undertake this training on its own or contract with an outside vendor. It is common for the program to include both on-site and classroom training.
Competent Person / Authorized Person
For the purposes of training and certification, a worker may be classified as either a Competent Person and Authorized Person.
OSHA defines a Competent Person as someone with the authority to identify and correct unsafe or unsanitary situations in the workplace.
An Authorized Person is classified as someone who is authorized to perform certain tasks in a designated area of the worksite.
In layman’s terms, Competent Person training should prepare a worker to spot and correct potential dangers, while Authorized Person training should cover recognizing and avoiding fall hazards.
There is some basic commonality between the two training courses. We will briefly cover some of the subjects that should be found in both types of training.
Recognition and elimination of fall hazards are an important aspect of safety. Employees should be trained to identify areas that constitute fall hazards such as leading edges and opening in roofs, and understand how to keep themselves or others safe in these situations.
Fall Protection & Arrest Systems
This portion of the training should cover not only the different types of systems but also provide instruction on how to properly use the equipment. Depending on the specific needs of the company, this may include training in the proper use of personal fall safety devices such as harnesses, lanyards, lifelines, and ladder climbing systems.
Fall protection equipment must be inspected on a regularly scheduled basis to ensure it isn’t damaged and that it is functioning properly.
Employees should understand what to look for when inspecting equipment and the process for reporting any issues.
OSHA & ANSI Guidelines
This should cover applicable regulations governing fall protection. It is important that all employees, whether an “Authorized Person” or “Competent Person” understand what is required to be compliant with these guidelines.
This is a quick overview of some of the basics that should be a part of fall protection training for all employees who are classified as either an Authorized Person or Competent Person. The specific training courses for each worker classification will include topics related to the responsibilities of the employee.
The goal of fall protection training is to make sure all employees understand their role in preventing fall-related incidents in the workplace.
By Peter Kavia
CAI Safety Systems
Peter has been a safety expert for almost 20 years and is certified as a Qualified Fall Protection expert. He currently holds the title of Director of Operations for CAI Safety Systems, a custom turnkey fall protection company in Southern California.