Fall protection is a hot topic right now – and not just in the construction industry, but for general industry as well. With updated standards and constantly evolving safety concerns, are you prepared and in compliance for what’s ahead?
If you recall back on January 17 of this year, the final rule was made effective for the updated Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards. A new section was also included for employers regarding the requirements for using personal fall protection systems under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards. So for all you general industry folks, this is a good thing!
Here are some cool numbers and the reason why we’re excited: OSHA estimates the prevention of 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually, which will affect approximately 112 million workers at seven million worksites.
That being said, are you in compliance with the new Fall Protection standard? Regardless of your answer (which we want to be “yes”), now’s a great time to take a look at your safety training plan to make sure you’re covered. Having new or updated safety standards provides a good opportunity for you to reevaluate your needs. So, let’s walk through some steps you can take:
• Evaluate your Workplace and Training Needs
First things first – when was the last time you evaluated your workplace safety needs, and more specifically, fall protection? Especially with this new update, there could be some new rules that you can use to your advantage. For example, the most significant update in the new rule is allowing employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, giving you the opportunity to choose from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. Just so you know, OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994 and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level, prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.
• Update Training Materials
In with the new and out with the old. New standards means new or updated training – that is if you want to stay in compliance and not get fined. Now that you’ve evaluated your current training needs, it’s time to find the right training materials and put them into place. For this fall protection standard in particular, make sure your current vendor offers the updates in their training. If they don’t, there are all kinds of safety training vendors to choose from. If you’re not sure where to start or are looking for new training options, it’s a good idea to call a safety consultant who has experience working with several vendors and training offerings to help you find the training that will best fit your specific needs. And once that’s done, you can educate your workforce.
• Educate your Workers
Make sure your workers know the 411 of the new standard and training procedures. As the employer, YOU are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for your employees. For best results, training should be conducted in a way that best suits your audience to allow for higher comprehension and retention of material. Offering different medias for training, such as DVD, interactive online, or onsite, can help you create a more tailored training plan. If you’re looking to take your training to the next level, creating a custom training plan for your site or facility helps to ensure an even greater understanding of material for your workers.
Need Help with a Plan? We Can Help.
We evolve with the safety standards and work hard to make sure we are able to offer several training formats for just about any EH&S topic that you can think of. And getting our hands on updated and new programs is the name of the game – keeping workplaces up-to-date and safe is why we are in business.
If you’re in need of new Fall Protection training, want to find a new format, or just looking to talk safety, give us a call today – we won’t let you fall.