No one would argue about the importance of reducing falls, since workplace falls can result in serious injuries and fatalities. But, if you ask what should be done to reduce risks, you might get glazed looks and a wide variety of answers. Perhaps this is partly why preventing falls is such a significant challenge for safety professionals.
In our 15+ years of experience in the fall protection industry, we have seen three common mistakes:
1. Do nothing
Instead of doing nothing, take small steps to increase safety. Don’t get overwhelmed when you start to analyze the complexity or sheer number of hazards and the potential cost to abate them. Refer to the ANSI Z359.2 standard for guidance, form a safety committee, or contact a fall protection consultant.
2. Solve the wrong problem
Don’t guess what needs to be fixed. Instead, conduct a facility-wide, wall-to-wall fall hazard assessment with the help of an experienced safety professional. The assessment can be an extremely useful tool to evaluate probability and severity and the resulting risk posed by fall hazards. By accurately evaluating risk, safety teams can avoid spending valuable time and money on solving problems that do little to reduce the risk.
3. Implement the wrong solution
Unless you are on a job site with your employees every minute, it’s hard to understand all of their tasks and concerns. Employee input and feedback speeds the identification process for hazards and helps gain faster consensus on proposed solutions.
Fall protection is a complex and broad topic, so it’s critical to involve as many stakeholders as possible and consider all the options. Those organizations that involve their stakeholders, continuously communicate and create team buy-in are the most successful at reducing and eliminating fall hazards.