Understanding the Hierarchy of Fall Protection to Avoid Fall Protection Misuse
The Hierarchy of Fall Protection is the most effective order of control to neutralize or control fall hazards. This approach echoes regular safety practices for hazard reduction, from elimination all the way to administrative controls. Employing the data obtained from the fall hazard assessments, solutions within the hierarchy can be used on the hazards.
1. Hazard Elimination
The favored solution to any fall hazard is elimination. The factors leading to exposure to the fall hazard is assessed to find out if modifying the procedure, practice, location or equipment will prevent exposure to the fall hazard. Indicating HVAC (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning) equipment be installed on the ground, or in an equipment room instead of by the edge of the roof, is one demonstration of hazard elimination.
2. Passive Fall Protection
Physical barriers, such as guardrails and covers over holes, constitute passive fall protection. Passive protection is mainly used to offer a greater level of safety, considering the chance for error is lower than with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The initial costs of passive protection, although potentially high, are usually more reasonable than the long-term price of PPE. Passive protection may however not be guaranteed if fall hazard exposure is limited in terms of frequency and duration. An total hazard assessment gives the information required to make such kinds of decisions to boost cost-effectiveness.
3. Fall Restraint Systems
Fall restraint systems are intended to prevent a fall from happening. Fall restraint systems count on PPE to reduce the worker’s range of movement, hence curtailing their ability to physically travel to the fall hazard. Although fall restraint systems are usually underutilized for the reason they are not particularly mentioned in various regulations, they are still preferred over fall arrest systems. Free fall distance is a non-issue for fall restraint systems, which means force arrests, clearance requirements, secondary injuries, etc. are practically out of the picture.
4.Fall Arrest Systems
Fall restraint systems are set up so that falls are allowed by will be arrested within safe force and clearance limits. Fall arrest systems have more risks to them, as the falling worker needs to be stopped with a harmless amount of force and also prevented from hitting the ground or any surrounding structure. Proper fall restraint and fall arrest system training is critical.
5. Administrative Controls
Administrative controls are preventive steps taken to lower the possibility of a fall. They include but are not restricted to warning lines, control lines, designated areas and safety monitors. It should be noted too that OSHA supervises the use of various administrative controls, and it is the responsibility of the fall protection program administrator to know the applicable jurisdictions and regulations.