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. Utilizing the data gathered from the fall hazard assessments, solutions in the hierarchy can be implemented on the hazards.
1. Hazard Elimination
The popular solution to every fall hazard is elimination. The reason behind exposure to the fall hazard is tested to establish if changing the procedure, practice, location or equipment will block exposure to the fall hazard. Stipulating HVAC (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning) equipment be set up on the ground, or in an enclosed room and not by the edge of the roof, is a case of hazard elimination.
2. Passive Fall Protection
Physical barriers – for example, guardrails for unprotected edges and covers on holes – are types of 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 upfront costs of passive protection, though likely high, are typically more justified than long-term PPE costs. 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. Even as fall restraint systems are generally underutilized since they have no specific mentions in several regulations, they are still prioritized over fall arrest systems. Free fall distance is not a concern for fall restraint systems, thereby practically eliminating arresting forces, secondary injuries, clearance requirements and the like.
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 actions taken to decrease the chances of a fall. Such include warning horns, control lines, safety monitors, and more. It must as well be noted that OSHA controls the use of several administrative controls, and it rests upon the fall protection program administrator to determine the regulations and jurisdictions relevant to them.