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Oregon Adds Construction Fall Protection Course

Oregon had an 11% increase in fall fatalities in 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and 1,150 injuries reported due to a fall to a lower level that same year. Oregon OSHA reports that from 2014 to 2018, 6,187 fall to a lower level disability claims in construction were accepted. To help reduce those occurrences, Oregon added a construction fall protection course to its online Fall Protection Suite.

Oregon Adds Construction Fall Protection Course
Oregon Adds Construction Fall Protection Course

The Fall Protection Suite is a set of online training courses offered by Oregon OSHA. The courses offer comprehensive training on working safely at heights for general industry and construction including Fall Protection Fundamentals, Ladder Safety, Fall Protection for Roofing, and now Fall Protection for Construction.

The Fall Protection for Construction course is designed to educate employers and workers on maintaining their operations in compliance with Oregon OSHA fall protection standards. The multimedia course features insights from industry leaders and practical demonstrations highlighting relevant requirements and explaining terms and process.? Fall protection system equipment options are explained including fall restraint, fall arrest, self-retracting lifelines (SRLs), positioning devices, and guardrails. Common construction fall hazards and their resolutions are discussed including leading edge, sharp edge, framing, scaffolding, and holes & openings.

“This new course reflects Oregon OSHA’s ongoing commitment to expand our educational offerings in a way that fits the busy schedules of employers and workers, and that helps them maintain safe workplaces,” said Roy Kroker, consultation and public education manager for Oregon OSHA.

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OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard

Fall Protection violations remain the most frequently cited by OSHA for the NINTH consecutive year. There were 6,010 Fall Protection – General Requirements violations, almost double of the next ranking violation. The top ten also include Ladder violations in sixth place and Fall Protection Training Requirement violations in 8th place. OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard was passed in 2016 in part to align general industry standards to make compliance obligations clearer and less costly.

OSHA's Walking-Working Surfaces Standard
OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard

OSHA’s long-established regulations for fall protection in the construction industry were applied to the general industry in an expansion of the existing walking and working surface standard. The updated standard also aligned general industry requirements with many ANSI standards. The rules require employers to identify fall hazards in their workplace and establish plans and procedures for the elimination of or protection from them. If fall protection or prevention is necessary, all components must be adequately rated, regularly inspected, and employees must be properly trained on their use.

The final rule increases worker fall protection including:

  • Eliminates the hazard of workers climbing extended heights on fixed ladders without fall protection by phasing out the use of qualified climbers in outdoor advertising.
  • Phases in a requirement that fixed ladders (over 24 feet) must be equipped with ladder safety or personal fall protection systems to prevent workers from falling or arresting their fall before contact with a lower level.
  • Provides performance criteria for personal fall protection equipment in general industry, similar to the criteria used in OSHA’s construction industry rules since 1994.
  • Requires the use of body harnesses, and prohibits body belts, in personal fall arrest systems to distribute fall arrest forces over a larger area of a worker’s body.
  • Requires that workers who use personal fall protection and other covered equipment be trained, and retrained as necessary, in fall and equipment hazards before performing work at elevated heights and use of that equipment, including fall protection systems.

The final rule provides compliance flexibility in allowing employers more options in fall protection options. Outdated specification requirements were replaced with more flexible performance-based language and criteria. Updates through advances in technology, industry best practices, and national consensus standards are incorporated to provide employers with more effective and cost-efficient measures to protect workers from fall hazards.

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Natural Disasters Threaten Worker Safety

Disastrous weather events continue to create wide-spread damage across the United States impacting power grids, transportation routes, and business operations. Resulting damages from natural disasters threaten worker safety. As communities rebuild, returning industrial workers to safe operations will be critical.?

Natural Disasters Threaten Worker Safety
Natural Disasters Threaten Worker Safety

Fall injuries and fatalities already plague U.S. businesses, costing $15.4 billion annually and claiming nearly 900 lives in 2018. These recent natural disasters are affecting our most essential workers in their already higher risk industries including construction, manufacturing, transportation & warehousing, and agriculture.

As part of your disaster recovery plans, consider scheduling a fall protection onsite analysis. A Fall Protection Specialist will help you identify and resolve fall hazards. Fall Protection Specialists are up to date on compliance and best practices set by regulatory agencies like OSHA and manufacturing standards set by ANSI. Your site and operations will be analyzed by an expert who is well versed in the precise data needed to engineer the most-effective fall protection system for your operations.

Damage to your current fall protection system may not be as obvious as toppled columns or damaged gangways. Before returning to operations, an inspection of your fall protection system is recommended. FPS offers nationwide inspections, regardless of manufacturer or installer, completed by our experienced and certified inspection technicians.? If your inspection reveals structural damage, our inspection technician will share the site documentation and photos with our engineering team who will get to work on a repair or replacement plan.

As we ask so many to continue to work each day to provide essential services, including food, shelter, and distribution, we must continue to do what we can to keep them safe on the job. Worker safety cannot be overlooked. Fall Protection Systems?continues our critical work of providing the safety equipment and service that has kept thousands of workers safe from falls while on the job for over 20 years. You can reach our fall protection specialists via?email?or phone (888-596-5367) during normal business hours.

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Improving Agricultural Worker Safety

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA) are collaborating on improving agricultural worker safety. The collaboration is a three-year commitment to combine the resources and reach of each organization to advance workplace safety and health in the farming industry. The two organizations will share best practices and work together to advance issues of common interest, increase educational opportunities, and improve occupational safety and health practices and outcomes.

Improving Agricultural Worker Safety
Improving Agricultural Worker Safety

“Our council works to raise the profile of worker safety within agriculture and helps get safety information into the hands of those who need it,” said ASHCA Chair Jess McCluer, vice president, Safety and Regulatory Affairs, at the National Grain and Feed Association. “Collaborating with ASSP brings a new level of experience to that effort that will improve the well-being of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers.”

The agricultural sector is the most dangerous job category in America, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2018, the farming segment reported 574 fatalities, or 23.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. Of those fatalities, 35 resulted from fall-related incidents.

  • Loading and unloading operations may expose workers to open hatches, swing & swivel spouts, and heights well over four feet and frequently atop rolling stock (rail cars, trucks, and barges).
  • Silo and storage complexes require walking on uneven surfaces and maneuvering around industrial equipment that poses trip and fall hazards. 
  • Grain bin entry exposes workers to falls leading to engulfment and additional workers at risk in the event of a confined space rescue.
  • Maintenance of agriculture equipment like combines and tractors require operations at height.

Fall Protection Systems has partnered with thousands of agriculture facilities in our over 20-year history, identifying hazards and providing turnkey solutions. Our agriculture fall prevention and protection solutions include overhead anchorage, safe access, and ladder climbing safety systems.

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Everything Custom-Engineered Fall Protection

Like many rail loading operations, this chemical manufacturer had workers using installed rail ladders to access and load the top of tanker cars. In addition to the slip and fall hazards presented with these ladders, workers are left unprotected once on top of the cars and limited in mobility from car to car.? OSHA requires safe access and fall protection for anyone working at heights of four feet or more above a lower level in the general industry.

Everything Custom-Engineered Fall Protection
Everything Custom-Engineered Fall Protection

Our Fall Protection Specialist visited the facility to complete the first step in our turnkey experience. The site survey revealed possible installation challenges, so soil and sonar testing were both completed to ensure proper foundation and avoidance of underground structure and utilities. Our engineering team customized a 430 foot continuous overhead trolley rail system which would be supported on L-style vertical support beams to minimize the footprint of the fall protection system structure. Our standard 5-year structure warranty was supported with an additional P.E. Seal certification.

This project was funded in December of 2019 with a spring installation goal. When the COVID-19 pandemic started in California, our teams quickly worked with the facility to ensure installation could be completed in compliance with safe distancing and limited visitor policies. The system was successfully completed in early April.

In addition to resolving fall hazard concerns, the client was happy with the completed project, especially amid pandemic safety precautions. We look forward to continuing our partnership and providing fall protection solutions as their facility evolves.?

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Understanding Fall Protection Anchors

The concept of fall protection anchors is simple: connect yourself through a safety harness and lanyard to an immovable anchor point while working at height and you will be “caught” should any fall occur. However, understanding fall protection anchors is a lot more complicated. The wide variety of designs, specified uses, intended performance, weight load, attachments, and surrounding obstructions make the selection of fall protection anchors a precise and critical decision.

Understanding Fall Protection Anchors
Understanding Fall Protection Anchors

All anchors, even if they have the same load-bearing rating, are not created equal. Manufacturers design and engineer anchors with specifications on performance based on installation, use, environmental factors, and interaction with connecting components. To maintain compliance with OSHA and ANSI regulations, it may be best to work with a fall protection specialist who understands the anchors available on the market, their designed use and performance, and the many factors that affect the reliability and safety of the overall fall protection system at your individual worksite.

  • Where is the anchor needed?
  • How high can that anchor be to ensure there is a safe fall arrest distance?
  • What obstructions may present additional hazards that may lead to swing falls?
  • What will the anchor be secured to?
  • What is the maximum fall force the anchor may be subjected to?
  • What will the minimum required strength need to be?

Once the unique specifications of the needed fall protection system are established, a fall protection specialist will identify the most applicable anchor to be used and will consider the following factors:

  • What type of anchor is needed (Type A – Basic, Type T – Tieback Use, or Type D – Deformable)?
  • Is it destruction proof?
  • Does the anchor meet strength standards needed for the operation (including breakage strength, working load, weight capacity)?
  • Does the allowable direction of loading on anchor meet user operations?
  • What components does it need to be compatible with (safety harness, lanyard or lifeline, attachment point, etc.)?
  • Prioritize the performance of the anchor over cost. Though two different anchors pass the same compliance standards, their intended installation and use can be very different.

The responsibility then falls to the users of the fall protection system. Make sure to understand and not exceed the load capacity of the anchor which includes individual weight in addition to any weight that will be carried during operations while connected to the anchor. End-users must also understand and properly follow the manufacturer’s installation and use instructions. Manufacturers design anchors to manage the energy of a fall in different ways while providing an equal level of safety and then document the intended installation and use of the anchor.

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OSHA Awarded $11.2 in Safety Grants

OSHA awarded $11.2 million in safety grants through the Susan Harwood federal safety and health training program. The grants will provide education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize serious workplace hazards, including the coronavirus, implement injury prevention measures and understand their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.?

OSHA Awarded $11.2 in Safety Grants
OSHA Awarded $11.2 in Safety Grants

The Susan Harwood Training Grants Program funds grants to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor-management associations, colleges, and universities. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries.?

OSHA awarded 80 grants to conduct occupational safety and health training in urban and economically distressed areas. The 2020 Harwood grant awards also funded 12 targeted-topic training grants and four training and educational materials development grants on topics related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the awards will at least partially fund fall prevention and protection training. Four awards were specifically targeted on the topic:

Brazilian Worker Center in Allston, MA – Awarded $135,000 to deliver 40 hours of fall prevention and protection training for 660 workers, supervisors, and employers in the residential construction and roofing industries. Training will including using ladders, scaffolds, and PPE.

National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) in Watertown, SD – Awarded $160,000 to provide six hours of fall prevention and protection training for 336 employers and workers in the construction industry. Training will emphasize fall prevention during small cell deployment and while building and maintaining wireless sites.

Organization of Hispanic Contractors in Dallas, TX – Awarded $160,000 to provide two hours of fall prevention and protection training for 900 employers and workers in the construction industry. The targeted audience includes small businesses with youth ad minority workers.

University of California at San Diego in LaJolla, CA – Awarded $159,737 to deliver four hours of fall prevention and protection training for 340 employers and workers in the construction, maritime, and general industries.

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Rail Car Fall Protection

It is Rail Safety Week in North America. While the focus of those efforts is to raise awareness about the dangers around railroad crossings, it is also a good time to review safety precautions for anyone working in or around rail cars and lines. If your operations include working on top of rail cars, which sit at heights of as high as 16 feet, you are required to provide rail car fall protection.

Rail Car Fall Protection
Rail Car Fall Protection

Fall Protection Systems led the industry to the overhead rigid rail fall protection standard for rail car fall protection operations, creating solutions for working over tanker, spine, and hopper cars. Whether indoor or outdoor, permanent or portable, overhead rigid rail fall protection systems provide the highest degree of mobility and safety in fall protection. The FPS Patented TD3 truss allows for greater spans in between support columns reducing both the costs and the footprint of the system at your facility.

The L-Series is a single-line fall protection system covered by the TD3 Truss Trolley rail attached to vertical support columns that are secured in concrete footings along your rail line. They can be customized to follow the curves in your rail line, modified to span into and out of awnings or other overhead structures, or pre-engineered into simple self-installed kits.

The T-Series covers dual rail lines or other neighboring operations like truck and rail. Two TD3 Truss Trolley rails are installed on a single vertical support column between your side-by-side operations to minimize footprint and cost.

The AR-Series includes the TD3 Truss Overhead Rigid Rail system installed with access staircase platforms. This combination protects workers as they climb to reach the needed working height and allows them to safely connect to the overhead fall protection system. Once connected, they can safely walk and work atop rail cars across the entire span of the fall protection system, secured from potential falls.

The P-Series provides the same industry-leading fall protection as our fixed systems. This pre-engineered version of our TD3 Truss trolley rail or a single-point attachment is secured to a skid-mounted support column that can easily be moved to work stations throughout your facility.

In addition to the risk of catastrophic falls that injure your employees, you may face safety violations. OSHA issues citations under Section 5(a)(1) General Duty clause for failure to protect employees from potential fall hazards associated with workers walking/working on top of rail cars without fall protection. The cost of providing fall protection to your employee is less than the costs of a fall. Take this Rail Safety Week as an opportunity to review your site for fall hazards in addition to ensuring railroad crossing safety.

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Everything Construction Fall Protection

Accounting for the highest number of injuries, fatalities, and related costs resulting from workplace falls, construction remains a highly targeted industry for safety groups. Construction sites are routinely cited for fall hazard violations, contributing to three of the top ten OSHA violations year after year. Construction falls are preventable. Fall Protection Systems is a trusted source for everything construction fall protection including hazard identification, solutions, and training.

Everything Construction Fall Protection
Everything Construction Fall Protection

OSHA requires that employers protect construction workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges that are at least 6 feet above a lower level. Construction sites expose workers to a variety of hazards including working at heights, open edge exposure, and industrial equipment maneuvering.

  • Properly fitted PPE – Each worker using a fall arrest system should have their own, uniquely fitted harness. Harnesses come in a variety of sizes and configurations. They should only be used for their intended application and weight capacity. They should be inspected daily to ensure good working condition and custom-fitted to the individual user.
  • Secure Anchor Points – Anchor points provide the stability in active fall protection. When used with a full body harness and lifeline or lanyard, the complete system will arrest a worker in the event of a fall. Anchors come as deadweight or single-point devices which can be temporary or permanent.
  • Guardrails and safety gates – OSHA requires protection from trip and fall hazards, including open edges, floor or wall openings, rooftop perimeters, and walkway obstructions. Guardrails and safety gates are available as pre-engineered kits that can quickly and temporarily be placed onsite to remove the fall hazard.
  • Ladder fall protection – OSHA recently updated standards regarding acceptable fall protection equipment for ladders. Fixed ladders over 24 feet must have ladder safety or fall arrest systems. Ladder fall arrest systems are available as kits and can be quickly self-installed.

Fall Protection Systems offers only the most reliable equipment to get your construction job finished effectively and safely and all of our solutions are OSHA and ANSI compliant.  

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National Safety Stand-Down

The construction industry leads in fall-related injuries and fatalities by far in the U.S., with more than 20,000 injuries and 338 deaths in 2018. Construction workers are more than seven times more likely to die from a fall from height than other industries. Considered preventable, OSHA focuses many resources on mitigating construction site falls including the annual National Safety Stand-Down fall hazard awareness event being held this week.

National Safety Stand-Down
National Safety Stand-Down

A Safety Stand-Down is an opportunity for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. This week, safety information should focus on fall hazards and reinforcing the importance of fall prevention. Make sure to schedule the stand-down for each shift and consider including any subcontractors, engineers, architects, owners, and management. Your stand-down should be interactive and inclusive of employee experiences and suggestions. Structure your stand-down around the following topics:

  • What types of falls could happen? Common construction fall hazards result from operations including working on or near ladders, roofs, scaffold, stairs, or floor or roof openings.
  • What fall protection is provided? Employers are required to provide appropriate PPE, like personal fall arrest systems.
  • Is fall prevention and protection training up to date? If workers are unable to identify hazards, do not understand control measures, are unclear on using PPE and other fall protection equipment, or if there has been a recent fall, employers should initiate additional training.
  • What needs improvement? Are you experiencing fatalities, injuries, or near misses? Have your onsite workers identified areas or operations of concern?
  • What are the next steps? Make sure to end the stand-down with a commitment to follow up with additional resources and resolution of any concerns. Schedule follow up and include employees in research, selection, and implementation of equipment or process improvements.

OSHA requires that employers protect construction workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges that are at least six feet above a lower level. Construction sites expose workers to a variety of hazards including working at heights, open edge exposure, and industrial equipment maneuvering. Fall Protection Systems can provide customized solutions for any of these fall hazard exposures. 

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