Top 5 Reasons to Focus on Fall Protection in 2017

As a dually registered professional engineer and certified safety professional, Thom Kramer is widely recognized for his ability to apply both disciplines to solve fall protection challenges.

As we turn the calendar to a new year, it’s fitting to make plans for what should be new, improved or different. If safety and risk management matters to you, I highly recommend that you plan to focus on fall protection in 2017.

If you’re wondering why, here are five main reasons:

  • OSHA released new fall protection regulations, effective January 2017
  • ANSI Z359 recently published a landmark revision to the Z359.1 standard
  • Fall protection has been the #1 OSHA violation for 6 years in a row
  • Fall fatalities are not going down
  • The National Safety Council estimates that a single fatality costs a company $43 million

We are at an unprecedented time, with the landscape of the fall protection industry undergoing significant changes this year. Statistics show that the number of fall fatalities is staying relatively constant, despite the availability of sophisticated equipment. Clearly, we need to do more to minimize falls and related injuries.

OSHA records show that violations related to fall protection have been at the top of the agency’s list for six years in a row—despite focused efforts to educate organizations and workers on fall hazards and solutions. In most cases, these violations are related to a lack of training or equipment availability.

If organizations willfully violate OSHA regulations, the violations will continue to be high. But, if you want to mitigate your risk and protect your workers, new resources are available to provide guidance.

OSHA recently published fall protection regulations for general industry for the first time in more than 40 years. The new regulations provide significantly more information about personal fall protection systems, and they include additional requirements for hazard assessment and worker training.

While the new OSHA regulations are a step in the right direction, they still lack information for developing and maintaining an effective fall protection program. The publication of a revised ANSI Z359.1 standard provides much more specific guidance on fall protection program management, active fall protection system design, and detailed direction related to each component and type of fall protection system.

Finally, falls are challenging because they represent conflicting realities: significant fall incidents don’t happen often, but when they do occur, they’re catastrophic and costly in many ways. Death is obviously catastrophic, and the recent NSC report shows how staggering the overall costs of a fatality can be.

For the sake of your workers and your bottom line, I hope you will work toward improving your fall protection program in 2017. LJB’s goal of reducing risk for workers at heights remains unchanged for the new year, so please let me know how we can help you.

Comments

  1. Thom: Can you tell me if the new OSHA fall protection regulations appy to companies involved in hydraulic fracturing (NAICS Code 213112) Thanks, Jimmy Brennan, Tucker Energy Services,

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