Construction Safety: Fall Protection, Warning Lines And More

Injuries and fatalities occur with greater frequency in the construction industry than almost any other line of work.

The very nature of the job, which involves strenuous manual labor, working with heavy equipment and performing dangerous tasks in challenging surroundings, creates an environment that is tragically ideal for on the job injuries.

Despite these inherent dangers, most construction accidents are completely preventable.

Today, workers are protected by government regulations and state of the art safety equipment which are designed to eliminate or lessen the impact of these workplace hazards. The fact that so many accidents continue to occur is attributable more to human error than any industry-wide failure to protect workers.

OSHA

OSHA sets forth safety guidelines governing almost every profession.

These rules are designed to protect workers from a number of on the job hazards. However, these regulations are meaningless if they aren’t implemented on the work site.

The responsibility for making sure that proper safety procedures are followed at all times falls upon both the employer and individual workers. The employer must make workers aware of proper procedures through training and provide the necessary equipment to maintain a safe work environment. It is up to workers to use safe equipment properly and consistently.

Fall Protection

Falls are one of the biggest threats to worker safety. Every year hundreds of on the job injuries in the construction industry are attributed to falls from elevated surfaces.

Fall protection systems are designed to keep employees safe when working on roofs, scaffoldings, and platforms. All fall protection equipment must be provided at no cost to workers.

Within the construction industry, OSHA requires protection for anyone working on an elevated surface of any kind that is six feet from the ground or higher.

There are a variety of fall protection systems available to help prevent or mitigate the consequences of a fall. The type of protection required is dependent on the type of work and where it is being performed. Railings are required around openings and leading edges. Other types of fall protection systems include harnesses and safety nets.

Warning Lines

Although they cannot actually protect someone from harm in the event of a fall, warning lines play an important role in preventing falls by making workers aware of leading edges and openings.

Despite the name, warning lines aren’t painted on the surface, they are actually stanchions linked by chains, rope, or wires that are used to denote openings or the leading edge of a roof or other elevated surface. To ensure optimum visibility, warning lines are painted safety yellow and flags or other materials are placed at six-foot intervals between the stanchions.

The warning lines must be erected at different distances from potential fall zones, depending on whether or not mechanical equipment is in use.

Other Safety Equipment

Falling objects are another leading cause of injury and death on construction sites. Debris, equipment, tools and other materials that aren’t properly secured or come loose due to mechanical failure can create a dangerous situation for anyone on the work site. This is why hard hats are required for every person who enters a construction zone.

Toeboards, debris nets, and canopies may also be employed to prevent injury from unexpected hazards from above.

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