Use Caution and Safety Equipment to Prevent Fatal Falls

Falls pose a serious risk to construction workers. Almost all work sites have unprotected sides, edges, wall openings or floor openings at some point during construction. Having a company plan together for working around elevated openings is important to greatly minimize the danger you and your coworkers face.

Unsafe Openings

Unprotected openings are very dangerous and can change from day to day as the construction project progresses. Floor openings should always be clearly marked and roped off to notify other workers of the potential danger. Before work begins each day, workers should take note of where floor openings are located. Floor openings that are not being worked on should be covered with material capable of supporting twice the weight of the employees, equipment and materials placed on a one square foot area, or 400 pounds, whichever is greater. These covers should be secured in place and marked to prevent any accidents.

Safety Equipment

Fall arrest systems are used in workplace safety to prevent fatal falls. They’re found at construction sites, factories, and most industrial locations. They can be configured to work in any circumstance, whether horizontal, vertical, overhead, or on any degree of incline.
To prevent injuries from elevated falls, OSHA requires the use of personal fall arrest systems when a worker is exposed to a fall of 6 feet or more. Workers must always inspect safety harnesses and hardware carefully daily to make sure equipment is in good working order. When in doubt about a defect, don’t use it.

  • Don’t allow acids or other corrosive materials on your safety harness.
  • Never alter the harness by punching extra holes in it. If it doesn’t fit properly, replace the harness.
  • Never use gasoline or other harsh solvents to clean your harness. The solvents may weaken the material.
  • Inspect all safety equipment for burns, holes or heat defects caused by welding or burning.

Using aerial lifts around openings

Aerial lifts are commonly used on construction sites and caution must be used when working around openings. When an aerial lift is in the raised position, the lifts center of gravity is much higher, allowing it to more easily fall over if it finds an uneven surface or opening. Every aerial lift has manufacturer restrictions and guidelines that explain when it is safe to drive an elevated lift. Following these few safety procedures will keep you safe while operating an aerial lift.

  • Always walk the construction area you will be working in to check for any depressions, floor openings or other obstacles you might come in contact with.
  • Make sure any covered openings can support the weight of your equipment.
  • Any time you have to move your equipment, have a spotter on hand to alert you of any obstacles you might not be aware of.
  • When using an aerial lift, it is best practice to travel in the lowered position.

Although some accidents can’t be prevented, having a good safety plan in place will greatly reduce dangers on your job site. Using proper safety equipment when working above ground and around openings can keep missteps from being fatal.