Preventing Falls-Using Fall Protection Right
- DECEMBER 1999
A third of fatalities in the construction industry in 1998 were the result of falls from roofs, scaffolds, ladders, building girders or other structural steel. In the last issue of the Journal, a new IMI train-the-trainer initiative was announced to helped prevent fatal falls in our industry. But preventing the fall is just part of the solution. Contractors and workers need to know what the best fall protection is for the situation and how to use it correctly.
Workers using safety harnesses to prevent falls
should be aware that a person left hanging -- unable
to adjust their position -- in an OSHA approved harness
can become "medically compromised in as little as 15
minutes," according to Ross S. Davis an assistant instructor
with Ropes That Rescue, Ltd. A condition called "Harness
Induced Pathology" (HIP) can occur. As a result it is
important for other workers using the harness and those
working in and around them to know what to do in an emergency.
According to Joe Stewart, BAC's Craft Director for PCC, "One
action that the worker in the harness can take, if they
are able, is to drop a loop knot into the safety line.
This would allow the worker to stand with a foot in the
loop for short periods of time, and allow for some blood
circulation in the legs until rescue is accomplished." To
learn more about this condition and how to protect yourself
and your fellow members contact: IMI at 301-241-5503.
Do the Math: when using six foot fall protection
systems with shock absorbing lanyards. According to the
National Erectors Association, "in many instances the
workers' feet are going to hit that deck from 6 feet
up to 18 feet below them, long before the lanyard and
shock absorber are fully extended." They recommend that
contractors and workers "calculate the distance from
where the anchorage point is to the bottom of the worker's
feet. Add the length of the lanyard and the length
of the shock absorber minus the distance of the lanyard
from the anchorage point to the D ring…[and] if
the worker is tied to a static line or anything other
than a fixed anchorage… calculate the deflection
of the line and add that to the equation." The bottom
line -- contractors should check with the product's manufacturer,
use the proper equipment for the job, and "Do the Math."