Five Reasons People Don't Use Fall Protection
OSHA requires workers to use fall protection when working at a height of four feet or higher for general industry. This requirement is intended to protect workers in the event of a fall, but many people will find reasons to avoid using fall protection.
Unfortunately, these reasons often seem valid in the moment, but they can have severe consequences. Here are some common reasons people don’t use fall protection, and why those reasons aren’t sufficient for the risk.
1. It’s Uncomfortable
This reason is a simple one that people commonly identify as a legitimate excuse for choosing not to use fall protection. Uncomfortable equipment can be distracting and interfere with work, and fall protection harnesses aren’t necessarily designed for comfort. However, fall protection can save a worker’s life in the event of a fall, and it should be worn at all times, even if it isn’t perfectly comfortable. Additionally, many high-quality harnesses are intended to reduce discomfort as much as possible. Using good equipment can be an easy way to address the comfort concern.
2. It Gets in the Way of the Job
This reason is another way workers see fall protection equipment as an inconvenience. Some workers feel that the harness can limit their mobility or that the SRL can interfere with their work. Often, this issue comes down to a matter of training. With proper training, workers can understand how to adjust equipment to fit correctly and keep it from getting in the way. Using the right fall protection equipment also makes it easier to minimize equipment interference.
3. It Adds Extra Time to the Job
This reason is one where workers might actually feel like they’re doing the right thing by choosing not to use fall protection. They can get started sooner, which means they can finish and move on to the next job sooner. By skipping the fall protection, they’re saving time, which saves money, right?
The problem with this thinking is that fall injuries can actually be very costly in both time and money, and they cost US companies billions of dollars every year. Not using fall protection might save a few seconds, but it’s just not worth the risk.
4. It’s Unnecessary
This reason shows an attitude many workers can feel toward fall protection, and it reflects the idea of “it won’t happen to me.” Many people feel that working at height without fall protection is safe simply because they’ve been working that way for years, and they’ve never been injured before, but that doesn’t actually make it safe. Unfortunately, many workers have this attitude until they are injured. In fact, any person who has been seriously or fatally injured from a fall event probably could have said that they had never been injured in a fall before that accident.
Many people are inclined to think that their experience on the job ensures that they won’t lose their balance and fall. However, many falls are caused by conditions beyond the worker’s control, regardless of skill or experience. Some people will say that if they do fall, they’ll be able to react fast enough to catch themselves. In reality, it takes less than one second to fall 10 feet, and it’s virtually impossible to react in that amount of time. A serious fall can happen to anyone, no matter how confident they are.
5. It’s Just a Quick Job
This reason is one of the easiest ways for workers to put themselves at risk for a serious injury. How often does someone say, “This will just take a second,” before performing a dangerous job without any protection? The problem with this way of thinking is that it only takes a second for an accident to happen. For workers without fall protection, serious, debilitating injuries can happen before they even realize they’re in danger.
The Bottom Line
The simple fact is that there aren’t any good reasons for a worker to not use fall protection when working at height. No matter how safe it might seem to work without fall protection, there is always a risk. The safest thing to do is to stop looking for reasons and excuses to avoid using fall protection and just use it.
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