Resolve to Improve Fall Protection in 2018 (+ 4 Ways to Do It)

There are a variety of worthy New Year’s resolutions to consider as we enter 2018. If worker safety is important to you, I encourage you to pledge to improve your organization’s fall protection program this year.

Last fall, OSHA announced that fall protection citations ranked as the top violation for the seventh year in a row, and fall protection training entered the list at number nine. More importantly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently announced that fall fatalities in the workplace increased from 800 in 2015 to 849 in 2016—a 6% increase in a year. Overall, workplace fatality numbers are also up 7%, and reached more than 5,000 fatalities for the first time since 2008.

These are more than just data points. These numbers are indicators that organizations across this country need to do more to protect workers at heights. Here are a few suggestions on steps you can take to improve fall protection in your organization.

  1. Implement new OSHA regulations: New walking-working surface and personal protective equipment regulations became effective in January 2017, but many organizations still haven’t implemented the new rules. To minimize your risk of violation and improve worker safety, it is critical for your organization to understand and implement key changes. The new regulations provide a great reason to review your program and present a plan to management, which will help establish budget and priorities. LJB has provided several webinars to educate on these new regulations. Click here to access a recording of an overview webinar, and click here to access a more in-depth webinar on FAQs related to the new regulations.

 

  1. Conduct a Fall Hazard Risk Assessment: You can’t effectively reduce your fall risk if you don’t know where your risk exists. Performing a fall hazard risk assessment is always a good first step toward reducing risk since it answers so many fundamental questions. And, it’s also now required by the new OSHA regulations (1910.132(d)). There are many ways to perform an assessment, but make sure you’re considering probability and severity, and that your information is detailed enough to provide guidance on what, when and how to abate the hazards.

 

  1. Provide Worker and Supervisor Training: An effective fall protection program relies heavily on worker and supervisor behavior, and your personnel need the skills and information to make potentially life and death decisions related to fall protection. One of the most effective ways to reduce risk is to improve the awareness and capability of your workers. An investment in Authorized and Competent Person training is time and money well spent.

 

  1. Participate in the New ASSE certificate program: The American Society of Safety Engineers has recently announced a new Managed Fall Protection Certificate Program. This program helps organizations establish guidelines and requirements for a managed program, based on the requirements provided in ANSI Z359.2 The first certificate program seminar will be given at ASSE SeminarFest 2018 in early February. Visit seminarfest.asse.org for more information on Seminar #401.

 

With a focus on improving your fall protection program in 2018, you will demonstrate an awareness of this challenging safety issue, a concern for your workforce and a commitment to create a safe work environment. Make this a resolution you keep this year.

 

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