How to Ensure That Your Fall Protection System is Completely Secure?

Published: Tue 25 Feb 2014
A blog entry by Ethel Payne

Contributed by:

Ethel Payne
Manager
KWRS

Ethel Payne's Blog

Different manufacturing units face different types of risks. Depending upon the machinery that is used and the kind of procedures that are involved, the employees might have to be protected against a range of unforeseen events or mishaps. The industry of renewable energy is no exception. As the industry gains in recognition over a period of time, its risks are being unraveled by the industry experts too. There are times when the workers in this industry might have to climb heights for varied procedures involved in the industry. In that case, it is important to ensure that there is a concrete and comprehensive fall protection plan in place.

WHEN ARE THE WORKERS AT RISK?

Let us first evaluate when are the workers really at risk of being seriously injured by a fall:

  • 1.When they are at a height of 3 meters or more above the surface of the earth or water. This is a risk because falling off from that height might lead to lethal injuries to the workers.
  • 2.If the workers are working right above a surface that can cause them injuries if they fall on that.
  • 3.If the workers are right above a pit or even an open tank. This risk gets aggravated if the pit or tank is expected to contain hazardous material.

Under any of these three scenarios, it becomes important to put a security plan for the workers. Precaution is better than cure, they say, and that is how it works in this case as well. Instead of just focusing on quick response to fall related injuries, companies must focus on ensuring that the right protective systems are installed.

COMPANY RESPONSIBILITIES

So, what are the responsibilities that need to be taken up by the company? Here are certain things that the company can do to make sure that the workers are protected against the risk of falling:

Training: This is the first and the elementary step that needs to be taken by the company in order to develop a culture of safety within the organization. A training module has to be developed, which covers important elements of worker safety, especially the ones that are related to fall protection. This training must be offered by people who are trained in doing so, and have the knowledge in the concerned area. It is also important to consider involving the top management and the other employees of the company in the training process. The reason for this is that having knowledge about fall safety isn’t just imperative for the workers but also for the top management (who establish rules and systems), and other employees (many of whom might act as the workers’ supervisors).

System: Over and above exhaustive training, it is also important to establish the right systems within the organization. In other words, the company must develop mechanisms that can be helpful to the workers in maintaining their security. Some such systems can include the fall arrest system, safety net, guardrail, temporary flooring, etc.

Written Plan: Having a plan of action to fight against the risks of workers’ falling off heights, while working in the factory, is certainly a good idea. This plan should be in black and white. This way, the company would be able to communicate its policy to everyone in clear language. This policy must contain such details as the procedure to assemble the safety system, means of maintaining the same, the frequency and exhaustiveness of inspection, and how best can the system be used.

Inspection & Audit: Conducting regular audits can be helpful to enhance the safety of the workers. Such inspection can be carried out by experts who would carefully examine each and every element of the protection system in the company. This can ensure that problems in the system or any defects or even malfunctioning can be identified at a very early stage.

TYPES OF FALL PROTECTION SYSTEMS

In the earlier part of this article, we spoke about having solid systems within the organization to save against the risks of falling. Here is a brief description of some of the systems:

Fall Arrest System: This is one system that is extremely important for the company which is concerned about the safety of its workers. As the name suggests, this is a set of mechanisms which is made to ensure that if the workers do fall off, it arrests the fall and stops them from falling-off to the ground. There are various parts of the system. The anchor point holds the weight of the worker. It should be made so strong that it can handle the weight of a small pick-up truck. The reason for the need of such strength is that when workers do fall-off, they put a lot of pressure on the anchor point because of the speed of falling. The lanyard is the strap that is attached to a worker’s harness. Over and above these, there is also a full body harness that makes the fall arrest system fool proof.

Lineline: This system is meant to give the worker more freedom of movement. It is a vertical line, and it is generally attached to the anchor point.

Rope Grab: As the name suggests, it is meant to grab the worker to ensure that s/he does not fall off. It is a mechanical fall-arrest device. The system is so designed and developed that it locks itself as soon as the worker falls. Therefore, it considerably reduces the risk that the worker faces while s/he is working at a height.

CONCLUSION

Hence, there are many things that the company can do to ensure that the workers are safe. Falling off a height could have serious implications on the well-being and future working ability of the workers. Therefore, by having proper systems in place, training the company employees about the methods of fall protection, and implementing a fool proof mechanism, the company can ensure that the workers stay safe and secure.