Reducing Fall Hazard Risk: Focus on Certified Systems, Not Just Equipment

LJB’s Rupert Noton inspects an installed horizontal lifeline system.

For this year’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, I’m sharing the top five ways to reduce fall hazard risk, based on my more than 25 years in fall protection consulting. Check out the first three ways:

The fourth: Focus on Certified Systems, Not Just Equipment.

I can’t overstate the importance of the certification process for fall protection systems. After all, properly functioning fall protection systems can mean the difference between life and death.

Competent persons and fall protection system users may talk about how their equipment meets the latest ANSI/ASSP Z359 fall protection and fall restraint standards, but they typically can’t confirm that the whole system meets the standards. Documentation must show that the system is fit for service and that workers can use it safely.

When certifying a fall protection system, you must consider five primary elements. Each must be evaluated to ensure that all aspects of a given system are acceptable for use.

  1. Suitability of the system
  2. Anchorages
  3. Equipment
  4. Procedures
  5. Training

Well-planned and properly designed fall protection systems can only function if they are installed and used properly. Organizations that engage trained professionals to certify the entire process—from initial planning through construction to final close-out—dramatically increase the reliability of installed fall protection systems.

And, no matter how old a fall protection system is, its sole purpose is to save a falling worker. That’s why it’s critical to have active systems recertified regularly. Changes in personnel and environments happen in every workplace and can render active systems ineffective and unsafe. As circumstances and environmental conditions change, organizations must confirm that the system’s application and components are still viable and a good fit for their intended purpose.

If you have questions or would like more information about designing or certifying a fall protection system, comment below.

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