About every 10 minutes in the United States somebody gets hurt from something falling. That “something” is typically an object or tool from a construction site, which may be at a wind farm.
Effective fall protection requires a combination of products working together, often described as the ABC’s of fall protection. The anchorage connector, body support, and connecting device — form a complete fall-protection system for maximum worker protection.
However, it is also important to remember D, E, and F, the other significant components of a comprehensive safety program: descent and rescue, education, and fall protection for tools.
Craig Firl, Technical Manager at 3M, has put together a list of the basics that all wind technicians and employers should know to keep workers safe while working at height.
- Anchors: The secure point of attachment for the fall-arrest system. The appropriate type of anchorage connector varies by industry, job performed, type of installation required, and the available structure. It is essential to ensure the anchor chosen is correct for the task at hand.
- Body harness: The best way to achieve body support while working at height. Ideally, a harness will distribute fall forces over the upper thighs, pelvis, chest, and shoulders to lessen the impact on an individual body part. It is important to inspect your harness before each and every use. Check for wear, excessive corrosion, burns, or other damage.
- Connectors: A device that links a user’s full-body harness to an anchorage point. When used as part of a fall-restraint system, the length of the connector must be carefully selected so a worker is safely restrained or prevented from reaching a fall hazard.
- Descent & rescue: Decent and rescue devices are used to retrieve a worker who has fallen. Such devices include tripods, davit arms, winches, and comprehensive rescue systems. Choosing the right descent and rescue equipment depends on the jobsite, the task being performed, and the available workforce.
- Education & training: The effectiveness of fall protection gear, no matter how durable or reliable, is compromised when workers fail to use it correctly. That’s why contractors should enlist a training program or specialist to show workers not only what tools to use, but also how to use them.
- Fall protection for tools: For all objects at height, it’s not about catching the object — it’s about preventing things from falling in the first place. When using fall-protection equipment for tools, it is important that lanyards, attachment points, and wristbands allow a worker unrestricted movement and to use the tool with little or no interference.
The safety standards discussed reference the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) requirements that are a part of the ANSI/ASSE Z359 fall protection code. These standards are copyright protected documents but can be purchased here.