Tag: fall protection

Fall Protection for Nik Wallenda’s crossing of the Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls

Source (all photos): J. Nigel Ellis of Ellis Fall Safety Solutions.

This is a guest post written by Dr. J. Nigel Ellis of Ellis Fall Safety Solutions. Nigel is a Licensed Safety Engineer, Certified Safety Professional and Certified Human Factors Professional. He consulted with Nik Wallenda’s team in the weeks prior to the Niagara Falls crossing and, as Safety Inspector, was the person to approve Nik’s televised walk as he started onto the wire cable.

The search for a proper fall protection system for Nik Wallenda’s crossing of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls took a few weeks. Guided by our team of structural engineers and a safety engineer, it ended as a success – and became a historical event. As part of the team in charge of keeping this walk a safe event, referred to in the broadcast as the Safety Inspector, I was one of the last to check Nik’s safety equipment as he mounted the cable and began the walk to Canada from the scissor lift.

While the following details are in some ways specific to the fall protection industry, they are details that contributed to the success and safety of this amazing event. Read More

Fall protection for Niagara Falls

Fall protection (or lack of adequate fall protection) is a leading cause of fatalities in industrial safety accidents. It’s one of the largest threats to any safety program. For safety managers in a variety of industries and occupations, managing fall protection is no small job. Protecting Niagara Falls, for example, literally takes safety to a whole new level. Situated on the border between northern New York, USA and Ontario, Canada, Niagara Falls has a drop of over 165 ft (50m). In 2009, over 29 million tourists visited the area – making the 8th wonder of the world a very visible, potentially deadly safety threat. And when a rare event such as a tightrope walk grabs the world’s attention, fall protection is on everyone’s minds. Read More

A new campaign for fall prevention in construction

A fall fatality map produced by the Stop Construction Falls campaign. The map pinpoints recorded fall fatalities in the U.S. and can be viewed interactively at StopConstructionFalls.com.

There’s a new campaign underway to raise awareness about safety in the construction industry – spectifically, fall prevention – and it’s a joint effort by three organizations we sometimes reference here at Modern Safety. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and CPWR — The Center for Construction Research and Training – recently announced the launch of a nationwide construction fall prevention campaign. Read More

Fall protection enforcement measures extended for residential construction

Residential construction companies will be under increased pressure to meet fall protection compliance guidelines from regulators for most of this year. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration) announced today that it will extend its “temporary enforcement measures” in residential construction by another six months. The directive put in place last September was set to be lifted in March, but now it will cover the summer months into September 2012.

Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction, so OSHA’s announcement doesn’t come as a surprise. The temporary enforcement measures will include priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to assure consistency, and increased outreach. Over the past year, OSHA has already conducted more than 1,000 outreach sessions in the U.S.

We’ve blogged about the importance of fall protection for a few years. In a post from last November, we delved into some details about changes to residential construction fall protection guidelines from OSHA, and how the increased attention to compliance in this area is also happening in some parts of Canada. What do you think? Can increased attention from regulators or government inspectors bring down the troubling injury and incident numbers?

If you’re looking to review some key information about residential fall protection, OSHA’s webpage on the topic includes presentations, compliance aids, and other resources that may be helpful. OSHA’s complete directive on Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction is here. If you’re not already using a robust inspection management solution, it may be time to consider Field ID.

Santa expands use of Field ID for fall protection

We are excited to announce that after last years initial deployment of Field ID for Santa’s sleigh compliance, the his North Pole operations will be renewing and expanding their use of Field ID into 2012. Initially, Santa started using Field ID for sleigh maintenance and manufacturing safety compliance. The next phase of the roll out started shortly after OSHA made changes to the rules around residential fall protection. Although Santa runs a global operation on Christmas Eve, the fact that he goes house to house and from country to country actually means he must comply with several residential and fall protection regulations, across many different jurisdictions. Santa’s expanded safety management program will ensure he’s compliant throughout the year and around the world.

It’s not all magic

Many people might assume that because Santa can harness magic he is exempt from OSHA rules and other safety compliance regulations around the globe. This is not true.

“Yes, magic plays a role in our operation,” noted Santa, “but magic only gets us from house to house.”

The truth is that once Santa gets to any house, he still has to take the same fall protection precautions that any person working at heights would. If anything, Santa is under even more pressure to meet regulatory requirements than the average safety manager – whether working at home or on location at sites around the globe. Away from home, he’s under the microscope because enforcement agencies don’t want him to set a bad example. After all, the average person simply can’t rely on magic to prevent injury. Up north, Santa must comply with NPSHA (North Pole Safety and Health Administration). As we discovered last year, the NPSHA is even more strict than OSHA when it comes to safety managment.

The safety of the elf team

HSE Manager Yukon

After being promoted to North Pole Health and Safety manager years ago, Yukon Cornelius needed a way to track all of the Christmas team’s fall protection. Many people don’t know this, but the work fo Santa’s Elves doesn’t stop when all of the toys are made. They travel with him on Christmas Eve as well to assist in delivering presents to all the good girls and boys.

Hundreds of elves assist in this magical night. Each elf has a harness and self-retracting lifeline that needs to be inspected for safety before they leave the North Pole on Christmas Eve. And throughout the journey that night, the elf safety team must quickly and efficiently conduct onsite inspections at regular intervals (usually performed when Santa has stopped to deliver a notably large load, such as those present shipments destined for children living in apartment buildings).

Yukon uses Field ID, RFID tags and mobile devices to inspect each piece of fall arrest equipment and assign them to each unique elf.  Not only does Yukon ensure the safety of his team with Field ID, he ensures that he keeps track of the equipment and enforces loss protection.

“Christmas should be a happy time for everyone, including the elves that are on duty that night,” said Yukon. “When my team goes out, I need the peace of mind that comes with electronic inspection and safety management. I know my guys and girls will be safe out there, regardless of the weather. And the fact that Field ID lets me manage safety in the cloud, in real time, lets me tap into that peace of mind from anywhere, anytime.”

We at Field ID are extremely excited that Santa has chosen to expand his Field ID deployment. We’re also very excited to include Yukon on the beta testing for our iPad app in early 2012.

Happy Holidays from our entire team at Field ID!

Lifting equipment inspection records are a global challenge

OSHA, ASME, DOL, HSE LOLER. All of these acronyms somehow, in some way offer compliance and or enforcement guidance for lifting and rigging safety.  Today, I’m flying to Leeds, UK to attend the LEEA (Lifting Equipment Engineers Association) 2011 trade show.  The show is called LiftEx, and according to the LEEA website, it’s the leading event for the lifting industry.

“Now in its 7th year, LiftEx 2011 has become the leading event for the lifting industry. It has grown considerably to become a major exhibition this year, with 38% more floor space than in 2010. Now with 65 exhibition stands, the event will showcase the latest technology in the industry by bringing together designers, engineers, manufacturers, distributors, repairers and hirers of all types of lifting equipment.”

In preparing for this conference, I’ve been looking at the different lifting and rigging standards in Europe to ensure that I have educated discussions with anyone I talk to while on my trip.  In short, the basic safety compliance requirements related to lifting and rigging seem to be very similar across many different countries.

We have many rigging customers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and many more countries. For most of them, one basic safety requirement is that all lifting and rigging equipment needs to tagged with a clear indication of the working load limit, and that each piece of rigging gear needs to be inspected once a year by a competent person. And those inspection records must be available. Each country has some footnotes to this basic requirement. As an example, the UK requires that any rigging equipment that lifts a person is required to be inspected every six months.

The fact that all of these different countries have put in place strict regulations on the proper use and documentation of lifting equipment is a clear sign that this equipment must be taken seriously, as it can cause workplace incidents if used improperly. We’re always looking for new perspectives on safety and compliance, and so events like LiftEx are an important way for us to connect with peers in the industry. It helps us understand what’s important, and it helps make constant improvements to the world’s leading inspection software. It helps us make lifting and rigging safety compliance easier.

I’m looking forward to LiftEx and the opportunity to discuss rigging safety compliance with my peers in other parts of the world. If you’re attending LiftEx, you can see us in stand 41. Come by and say hi!

Fall protection safety rules change for residential construction

Falls are the number one cause of death in construction, and almost one third of fall fatalities in the industry, overall, happen on the residential construction side. It’s those kinds of statistics that make you wonder if the industry will catch up with the need for better safety compliance and inspections processes. As inspection software aficionados, we’re hoping it can.

The stats come from a story in Business Insurance this week on changes to fall protection rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In case you haven’t heard, OSHA says employers in the residential construction industry must now comply with fall protection methods used by the commercial construction industry. The directive, which took effect in June, effectively does away with some alternative fall protection options that were previously enjoyed on the residential side of the business. Residential construction must now look at fall protection procedures that include guardrails, safety nets, full body harnesses, scaffolds, ladders, aerial lifts, and even forklifts. (In a separate summary, Business Insurance lists some examples of acceptable fall protection systems here.)

“Gone are the special alternative procedures allowed under the old directive for certain residential construction activities.”

– David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA (from Business Insurance)

We found it interesting that article also points out that residential construction contractors investing more in safety systems (such as guardrails, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems) will likely see pay off in the form of lower workers compensation insurance premiums and the prevention of a job shutdown or fatality. When you consider that a single safety gear item might cost a couple hundred dollars for one worker, but violations can result in tens of thousands in fines or other costs, the argument for better safety management just makes sense.

Last week, we wrote about the results of a safety inspection blitz by the Government of Alberta, which found fall protection failures to be a leading source of safety violations and stop work orders among the 600 site safety checks performed. And it came as no surprise to us when fall protection topped OSHA’s list of the Top 10 most-cited safety violations at the NSC Congress and Expo this month. With more than 7,139 recorded violations, fall protection is clearly on OSHA’s agenda and deserves to be at the top of any safety manager’s list of priorities.

For the record, the full list of OSHA’s Top 10 violations this year is included below:

1. Fall protection – 7,139 violations

2. Scaffolding – 7,069 violations

3. Hazard Communication – 6,538 violations

4. Respiratory Protection – 3,944 violations

5. Lockout/Tagout – 3,639 violations

6. Electrical (Wiring) – 3,584 violations

7. Powered Industrial Trucks – 3,432 violations

8. Ladders – 3,244 violations

9. Electrical – 2,863 violations

10. Machine Guarding – 2,556 violations

OSHA Updated Residential Fall Protection Rules to be "Phased In"

OSHA revised  the rules about residential fall protection which means that there are potentially large fines for anyone caught working at height without fall protection. June 16 was supposed to be the big day that the new rules went into place, but OSHA has decided on a different approach.

Instead of implementing the rules they have decided to “phase in” its enforcement where it will run starting on the 16th of June to the 15th of September 2011. This will give contractors as well as inspectors plenty of time to get used to the new policies as written by OSHA and where inspectors, instead of issuing citations for any hazards discovered on site, will send hazard letters to the contractor indicating what should be changed in their work environment.

No surprises here, contractors found themselves scrambling on how to meet OSHA compliance after the announcement of the newly revised standards. Over 3000 hits on the OSHA’s slide show with regards to standards have been reported. However, there were still plenty of questions asked by the contractors regardless of the 80 page document on the new safety regulations.

It would be nice if OSHA would give companies a more concrete way on how to implement their new regulations.  Inspection software and safety compliance software like Field ID can pretty much ensure companies are within compliance, but most companies are unaware of such tools.  Don’t get me wrong, i think the new regulations are great.  There is a sound reasoning behind the updated or revised version of the 1999 rules when it comes to residential fall protection especially when statistics show that there were more deaths listed during fall construction compared to other situations.

OSHA is on the right path, more regulations aren’t bad, it’s only bad when people don’t know how to implement them and fear it might be cost prohibitive to implement the changes.

Ladder Safety: Going Above and Beyond OSHA Regulations

Good Morning Bloggers! Today I would like to share with you a very disturbing sight I witnessed a couple of days ago. Allow me to explain. A couple of buildings in the area (including ours) had hired some people to wash the windows on the outside of the buildings. This included windows on every floor, which meant there were several stories that they needed to climb up to in order to clean all of them. Now I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I was taught that whenever you’re climbing a high ladder, someone should always be at the bottom holding the ladder down. I think this has changed since people have started to strap harnesses to something secure while they are on ladders. These workers were not actually strapped onto something secure. I walked outside for lunch and saw someone just climbing up to the highest floor with no harness whatsoever. Needless to say, I was rather concerned for their safety.

In another situation, we all watched from our office windows while someone climbed up a 30 ft ladder without a harness while washing the windows of the opposite building. Out of curiosity and concern for the workers, we quickly searched for the OSHA regulation for ladder-related fall protection. We found that these workers were doing everything right and any non-fixed ladder does not require workers to use fall protection gear. Now here’s my question to you: If you were climbing up a 30 ft ladder, or climbing 3 stories high on a non-fixed ladder, would you feel safe with no fall protection gear?

We want to do everything in our power to make sure that accidents don’t happen. This situation is a great example of how you have to go above and beyond the bare necessities of regulations to make sure that everyone is safe. Regulations are just the bare minimum of what you need to do, but they’re not perfect. Even when I was passing by those workers, I worried about them. In the same way, regulations don’t say that you need to use inspection software to keep track of your compliance records, but there’s no doubt that it would be extremely beneficial and can save you a lot of time and money. We don’t just want to follow the rules, we want to also cover the things that OSHA might have overlooked, like how falling for a non-fixed ladder can also be very dangerous and painful, regardless of regulations.

For the same reasons, OSHA doesn’t really understand how much paperwork you have to do everyday. When audits are performed, they just need you to pull out the information immediately. This is why you can’t dismiss inspection software just because its not OSHA regulation. Inspection software can help you in ways that regulations just don’t cover. Why debate?

As a final note, Happy April Fools Day! Please make sure that all your pranks are hilarious yet keeps everyone safe. In other words, don’t put a thumb tack on your coworkers chair, its just unpleasant.

New OSHA Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry

Whenever I walk by a construction site and see everyone wearing fall protection harnesses, hard hats and other PPE I wonder “who pays for that?”.  It definitely differs from industry to industry, but as of February 10, 2011 it just became a lot more clear.  OSHA has issued their Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry.  The goal of this documented (taken right from the source) is:

“This instruction, Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective  Equipment in General Industry, establishes OSHA’s general enforcement and guidance policy for its standards addressing personal protective equipment (PPE). It instructs OSHA enforcement personnel on both the agency’s interpretations of those standards and the procedures for enforcing them.”

What I found particularly interesting about this document is how detailed OSHA is about what they require for specific occupations.  The standards are broken down into 5 main categories, but all of these have a large number of sub-categories.  The 5 main categories are:

  1. General Industry
  2. Shipyard
  3. Marine Terminals
  4. Longshoring
  5. Construction

These categories then break down into 143 sub-categories.  Some examples of sub-categories are focused on basic head and foot protection but also cover what one would need when working in very specific areas, such as working with lead.  This type of reading may not be very exciting, but it is put in place to save lives and safety managers must be familiar with their PPE requirements.

OSHA very clearly spells out what they are looking for when doing an inspection in this document.  One of the sections in the document is very clearly titled “Inspection Guidelines For General Industry”.  Having a good PPE program including tracking your PPE will help keep your workers safe and also ensure you don’t get into any trouble if you are the subject of an OSHA inspection.