The Value of Fall Protection Equipment
It is easy to be awed by the skyscrapers that reach into the clouds, but building these impressive structures is a much harder feat. While many people are unnerved by standing near a window at the very top of a tall building, construction workers have to endure such heights with far fewer protections in place. This is why fall protection equipment is essential.
In the past, construction projects were notoriously dangerous, especially as skyscrapers and suspension bridges became increasingly common. During the construction of the Empire State Building in New York City, rumors swirled about hundreds of workers falling to their deaths. While official numbers contradict these rumors, the fear is still valid. This is why modern workers are required to be more thoroughly protected when working at any height.
According to OSHA, fall protection equipment is required when the worksite has vertical drops of at least six feet. The range of this protective equipment varies depending on the location and type of work. Equipment may include body harnesses, vertical and horizontal lifelines, anchorages, connectors and webbing.
When using fall protection equipment, there are a number of important guidelines set in place to ensure their effectiveness. With proper usage, fall protection equipment should prevent any worker from falling more than six feet. Fall protection equipment is rigged to not only prevent contact with the ground but with lower floors as well.
More specifically, OSHA also provides regulations about the amount of force a fall protection harness should be able to endure. Every piece of equipment should be tested for a maximum force of 1,800 pounds. The equipment should also be installed so that the worker will come to a complete stop with a deceleration distance of 3.5 feet. When using this equipment at hoist areas, workers should only be able to move to the end of the working surface. These regulations are designed to minimize any injury in case of a fall, limiting the amount of force a worker would endure should such an event occur.
In addition to these measures, the harness must also be properly maintained. Before every usage, the equipment should be thoroughly inspected for signs of wear and tear. If there is any sign of damage, the harness should not be used. The harness should never be attached to guardrails or hoists, and all pieces should be removed from use immediately after an incident occurs.
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