Why Be Near Compliance When You Can Be Compliant: Fall Protection

Fall protection protocols and equipment are put in place to protect the safety of workers and prevent potential accidents. However, humans are creatures of habit, and when near compliance is present without a negative consequence, it’s easy to slack on proper procedures, contrary to safety measures.

According to OSHA, workplace falls are the most common cause of injuries and fatalities. It is important for preventive measures to be set up by employers in order to ensure the safety of their employees in the work place. This fact is especially true for the construction industry. In 2015, out of 4,379 worker deaths in private industries, 937 happened to be in construction. Out of the 937 deaths, 364 where caused by falls.

OSHA claims that out of the top 10 cited violations in 2016, fall protection in the construction industry was number one. Near compliance is a bigger issue than simply not donning your harness. Fall protection is there to make any workplace safer. These measures are needed for any elevated work environments. It is standard to have fall protection set up for elevations of four feet for general industries and six feet for construction sites.

OSHA’s guidelines for fall prevention are as follows:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt), employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings, and hand rails.

Proper efforts can be made for the prevention of falls. However, what is the point when near compliance is accepted? Standards for safety have been set by OSHA and are usually present in proprietary training and procedures. But standards mean nothing when there is a lax in compliance. Odds are that most causes for near compliance boils down to completing work at a faster rate. Cutting corners is something everyone does now and then. However, when at work, we need to be mindful that those corners are there for our own protection.

It is easy to detach ourselves from potentially harmful situations when a habit has been formed. It is even easier to continue that behavior when time has proven no negative outcome. While not properly utilizing fall safety equipment may not have detrimental effects at this very moment, it’s not worth the risk.


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