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Workplace Fall Injuries Up Slightly

The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report shows workplace fall injuries up slightly in 2019 at 201,180 compared to 199,900 in 2018. Reported numbers include only injuries and illnesses that involved days away from work. Falls to a lower level resulted in 48,040 injuries and falls on the same level was the cause for 153,140 injuries.

Workplace Fall Injuries Up Slightly
Workplace Fall Injuries Up Slightly

The construction industry continues to struggle in fall protection safety with fall injuries up 14% over 2018. Construction falls to a lower level caused 13,770 injuries with days away from work with an additional 7,400 falls on the same level.

Mining, quarrying, and oil & gas extraction had an 18% increase in fall-related injuries with 290 falls to a lower level and 520 falls on the same level in 2019 (930 total fall-related injuries). This was up from 770 fall-related injuries in 2018.

The wholesale trade industry had increased fall-related injuries as well in 2019. Wholesale trade fall-related injuries were up 12% over 2018. Of the 1,640 additional fall-related injuries, 1,160 were a result of a fall on the same level.

Transportation & warehousing, manufacturing, retail trade, and utilities were all down slightly in 2019. Transportation & warehousing decreased both falls to a lower level and falls on the same level for a 5% overall decrease in 2019. Manufacturing also slightly improved in both categories for a 6% overall decrease in fall-related injuries. Retail trade decreased fall injuries by 5% in 2019 with most of that recording from 1,780 less falls to a lower level. Though utilities improved overall, falls to a lower level injuries increased to 370 reported in 2019 compared to 260 the prior year.

A job site fall is a traumatic event not only physically injuring your employee, but emotionally impacting the worker, their families, and their coworkers. The costs of falls are considerable and compounding on your business. A fall injures your valuable employee, negatively impacts resources and revenue, increases insurance costs, incurs legal and medical fees, and exposes you to fines and penalties. Fall Protection Systems?is committed to partnering with you to resolve workplace fall hazards.?We provide a complete and customized solution to protect your workers and ensure compliant, reliable, and user-friendly fall protection and prevention.

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Workplace Injury Rate Maintained in 2019

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the workplace injury rate maintained in 2019 with 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, unchanged from 2018.

Workplace Injury Rate Maintained in 2019
Workplace Injury Rate Maintained in 2019

These estimates are provided from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. The SOII presents estimates of counts and incidence rates of employer-reported nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses by industry and type of case, as well as detailed estimates of case circumstances and worker characteristics for cases that resulted in days away from work (DAFW).

Manufacturing accounted for 15% of all private industry injuries and illnesses in 2019. Ten occupations accounted for over a third of all private industry cases involving days away from work. Laborers, freight, stock, and material movers had the highest number of DFAW injuries with nearly 65,000 cases. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers closely followed with nearly 48,000 DAFW injury cases.

There were 888,220 nonfatal injuries and illnesses that caused a private industry worker to miss at least one day of work in 2019, essentially unchanged from 2018. The median number of days away from work in private industry in 2019 was 8 days, also unchanged from 2018. On the high end, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers spent a median of 19 days away from work after an injury. Median days away from work for maintenance and repair workers, laborers and freight, stock, and material movers increased to 12 days away after an injury, up from 10 days in 2018.

There is clearly much work still to be done to improve worker safety. Most injuries are preventable with proper safety equipment, processes, and training. Fall Protection Systems is committed to workplace fall safety and partnering with you to resolve workplace fall hazards. With well over 10,000 customers served, our team of fall protection specialists, engineers, and certified technicians are experts in turnkey experiences including identifying, designing, manufacturing, and installing fall protection solutions. You can be assured your solution distinctly matches your facility and operation needs and is designed for the highest level of fall safety.

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Updated Jib Expands Fall Protection

Portable, modular fall protection is a versatile overhead anchor solution for multi-purpose facilities. These systems are transportable throughout your site and can be configured to protect workers from falls while performing a variety of operations. 3M’s updated jib expands fall protection with increased rail-length configurations and provides easier system transport.

Updated Jib Expands Fall Protection
Updated Jib Expands Fall Protection

The updated 3M™ DBI SALA? Flexiguard™ Modular Jib System is a collection of components that can be configured in multiple ways to create portable and adjustable overhead anchorage solutions. A combination of base and mast assemblies can be interchanged with a variety of accessories to customize to your unique operations and worksite with 80 unique application solutions.

  • Extended Reach: The M200 model reaches 15 feet from mast.
  • Increased Height: Maximum height of 30 feet
  • Full Rotation available on most bases.

Adjustment of the system can be accomplished manually with integrated winching handle, or up to 4 times faster using optional power drill overload clutch adapter. A patent-pending Fail-Safe Mast Lock eliminates the need for height-locking fasteners like pins and bolts. The automatic safety lock engages to prevent uncontrolled mast movement if primary lifting mechanism fails.

The unit is rescue ready by equipping with an optional rescue mounting kit to serve as a turnkey rescue plan or as a confined space rescue device.

Optimized for forklift transport, both the M100 and M200 counterweight models can be moved using a 5,000 lb rated forklift. Take a look at the ease of moving the jib system throughout your facility.

Fall Protection Systems is a trusted provider of the new 3M™ DBI SALA? Flexiguard™ Modular Jib System. Our Fall Protection Specialist will consult with you on your operational and portability needs to put together the right collection of components to complete your system. Call us at 888-596-5367 or contact us via email to get a quote started.

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Portable Overhead Fall Protection

When you are unable to remove fall hazards from your worksite and operations, you must provide fall protection for the safety of your workers. Overhead anchors provide the safest fall arrest and several portable overhead fall protection options are available if your at-height operations are not necessarily confined to one area on your work site.

Portable Overhead Fall Protection
Portable Overhead Fall Protection

FPS P-Series Fall Protection Systems: Our industry-leading level of fall safety in a pre-engineered and portable version of our patented overhead TD3 Truss-supported trolley rail systems. Skid or trailer-mounted, the P-Series system can be moved throughout your facility to provide 20, 40, or 60 feet of fall protection for up to two users. All systems include at least one user set (carabiner, self-retracting lifeline, safety harness) and our industry-leading 5-year structure warranty.

Modular Jib System: A collection of modular components that can be configured to create portable and adjustable overhead anchorage solutions. A combination of base and mast assemblies can be interchanged with a variety of accessories to custom tailor a solution for a specific application or environment. 80 configurations that provide up to 15 feet and 360-degree fall protection from the mast at up to 3o feet in height.

Overhead Rotational Boom Anchor: Provides a safe overhead anchorage that is designed specifically for use around vehicles, utilizing the vehicle weight to secure the anchor. Adjustable telescoping mast allows the height of the system to be varied from 14 to 20 feet. 360-degree rotational boom rotates in the direction of the worker allowing work up to 14 feet from the mast.

Hitch-mounted Anchor: Designed for highway travel, this unit is ideal for maintaining and repairing aircraft, industrial equipment, heavy machinery, or used for any elevated application at multiple locations. Designed for quick attachment to forklifts, trucks, and other towing devices. Rated for one user up to 310 lbs with height up to 22 feet and a 30-degree work area from the anchor point. 

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Fallen Worker Rescue Solutions

Falls continue to be one of the most common accidents in the workplace and among the most costly. Investing in fall prevention and/or protection equipment is part of the answer to keeping workers safe at height. The other component is fallen worker rescue solutions.

Fallen Worker Rescue Solutions
Fallen Worker Rescue Solutions

When the fall prevention and protection equipment is used correctly falls are limited and rare and a rescue plan and equipment can be overlooked. However, rescue is a critical procedure that should be prioritized as part of your overall fall protection program. In most falls, a worker would be temporarily secured through a harness and anchor system saving them from initial catastrophic injury, but leaving them at risk of suspension trauma. Suspension trauma, or harness hang syndrome, is the condition when a worker’s body weight places pressure on the harness straps, which can compress the veins and cause blood to pool in the lower extremities and reduce blood return to the worker’s heart. If the pressure is not reduced promptly, the worker can lose consciousness within minutes.

Products like descenders, ropes, and other rescue gear should be part of your overall fall protection investment. Solutions should be ANSI/ASSE Z359.4 compliant, the standard for technical requirements and testing procedures for rescue descenders, ropes, harnesses, and other equipment. 

  • Self-Rescue Harness Attachment: Products like the 3M™ DBI-SALA? Self-Rescue device attach to your current safety harness and allow you to lower yourself to safety in the event of a fall from height. The unit includes an assisted rescue ring for an incapacitated user as well.
  • Trauma Straps: Suspension trauma safety straps help prevent the effects of suspension trauma after a fall. These allow the worker who is suspended to stand up in their harness to relieve pressure.
  • Rescue Positioning Device: Designed to perform as both a work positioning device and as a personnel rescue device. Along with raising and lowering capabilities, the rope in the device can be locked into place so that the user can be positioned in a precise location for work purposes. The simple raising and lowering mechanism make the RPD ideal for use when rescuing personnel. 
  • Rescue Kits: Rescuers can remotely attach the system to the suspended worker while remaining securely anchored on the walking/working surface.
  • Tripod or Hoist Systems: Designed for manhole and confined space entry/retrieval applications.
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Fallen Worker Rescue Planning

When you are unable to remove fall hazards from your worksite and operations, you must provide fall protection for the safety of your workers. Securing your work at height users with compliant fall protection, training all workers on equipment, and following inspection and maintenance standards are all part of addressing fall hazards. While these measures minimize injuries and fatalities, they will not always stop a fall. Complete fall protection for your workers at heights includes equipment, training, inspection, and fallen worker rescue planning.

Fallen Worker Rescue Planning
Fallen Worker Rescue Planning

An effective fallen worker rescue plan addresses the procedures, equipment, and personnel needed to ensure that a rescue proceeds quickly and efficiently when a fall occurs. Even when the fall protection and restraint components work properly, the fallen worker is still in danger. The worker’s body weight places pressure on the harness straps, which can compress the veins, and cause blood to pool, in the lower extremities and reduce blood return to the worker’s heart. This condition is called suspension trauma, also known as harness hang syndrome. If the pressure is not reduced promptly, the worker can lose consciousness within minutes.

Planning for safe rescue is an integral component of a managed Fall Protection Program as envisioned by American National Standards Institute document [ANSI Z359.2] and by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration standard under CFR 1926.502.(d).(20). The National Safety Council provides guidelines for the creation of a fall rescue plan.

  • Worksite and Operation Description: Identify the worksite, fall protection and fall rescue competent person(s), and a summary of the site and fall exposure involved in the work operation.
  • Fall Exposure Evaluation: Complete a fall exposure evaluation that considers employee identification, fall exposure types, fall protection equipment, and emergency responders. Determine the maximum fall exposure that could require rescue and the methods, equipment, and training that would be required.
  • Rescue Operation Considerations: Identify and incorporate details about the components needed for safe rescue operations and any accommodations including anchorage points, structural features, environment, equipment, hazards, personnel, site, and time.
  • Training: Rescue personnel should possess the skills needed to implement the Fall Rescue Plan or should be trained to do so. ANSI Z359.2 offers guidance regarding fall rescue training.
  • Pre-exposure Meetings: Review the Fall Rescue Plan during regular safety meetings with all site workers, especially those workers using the fall protection equipment and anyone that is part of the fall rescue plan.
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Fall Protection Harness Sizing

When using a fall protection system, the safety harness plays a critical role. Fall arrest harnesses are designed to minimize injuries during a fall and while waiting on rescue. When properly worn, fitted, and attached to a fall protection system through a self-retracting lifeline, the force of a fall is distributed through the harness to areas of the body better able to absorb the force and support the worker’s weight. Make sure your fall protection harness sizing is correct for your body and purpose.

Fall Protection Harness Sizing
Fall Protection Harness Sizing

Typically weighing less than three pounds, the safety harness has a back-mounted D-Ring which is used to hook up to the lifeline. Harnesses include quick-release clamps and tensioning adjustments to fit various body shapes and sizes. Proper adjustment of the harness is essential to the user’s safety. Ill-fitting harnesses can be uncomfortable but most importantly may not provide the appropriate level of protection. Even if a too-loose fall protection harness catches a falling worker, the harness may not properly protect the worker from injuries during the fall as would be expected from a safely fitted harness.

Manufacturers provide all the specifications for the load capacity, intended use, and size charts for their harnesses. Make sure to select your harness based on those specifications.

Universal: Universally sized harnesses will have limitations on intended use, weight, and load capacities. Typically universal covers a wide range of average sizes but you should consult the size chart before ordering.

Women: Even with the adjustment possibilities, unisex harnesses may not be completely comfortable for women. Manufacturers have designed fall protection harnesses specifically for women?that keep shoulder straps at the side and away from the chest, offer better hip support, and increase comfort.

Big & Tall: In addition to a larger harness to accommodate big and tall sizes, users may also need to review the weight capacity of the SRL they will be attaching to. FPS offers big & tall fall protection user sets that can support up to 400 lbs.

OSHA 1910.140 defines Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Personal Fall Protection Systems including the proper types, components, and performance standards of fall protection harnesses and employer expectations for providing compliant PPE. Fall Protection Systems is a trusted provider for OSHA compliant fall arrest harnesses.

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Everything Lumber Fall Protection

From forestry and logging operations through wood-related product manufacturing, the lumber industry reported 11 fall fatalities and another 2,380 fall injuries in 2018 (BLS reports). As lumber workers perform operations including loading and unloading, tie-down and tarping, milling, and manufacturing, they are exposed to heights exceeding the four feet requiring fall protection by OSHA.

Everything Lumber Fall Protection
Everything Lumber Fall Protection

This state-of-the-art sawmill facility opened in 2019 to process high-quality wood products, processing up to 100 locally-sourced logs per day. Lumber processing equipment is typically situated at ten feet or higher and is comprised of spaced rollers, presenting fall from height, leading edge, and fall through hazards that risk the safety of workers and violate OSHA regulations for a safe workplace. Committed to the safety of their employees, they partnered with FPS and invested in an overhead rigid rail fall protection system.

  Our Fall Protection Specialist visited onsite to collect details on daily operations, identified fall hazards, and documented the site-specific measurements needed to custom-design a fall protection system. At this location, the lumber sorter was installed into a pre-existing building, creating a low overhead clearance concern for maintenance workers on top of the equipment. This can complicate providing a safe overhead anchor point as a critical calculation in fall protection system design includes deflection during a fall. Our experienced engineering team drafted a rigid rail anchor solution to accommodate the low-clearance restrictions and provide the fastest fall arrest with the shortest fall distance.

 The facility is now protected with four overhead rigid rail fall protection systems securing their employees while working over lumber processing equipment, loading product on to rail cars, and during truck tarping operations.

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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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