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What is fall protection?

Ask 10 people what fall protection means and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. For many in the construction industry, equipment is the first thing that comes to mind: personal fall-arrest systems, safety nets, or guardrails, for example. But fall protection is more than equipment. Fall protection is what you do to eliminate fall hazards, to prevent falls, and to ensure that workers who do fall don’t die.

Is it possible to make sense of fall protection? We think so. You accomplish fall protection by doing the following:

• Ensure that everyone has a role to play in preventing falls.

• Identify and evaluate fall hazards.

• Eliminate fall hazards, whenever possible, rather than using personal fall protect systems.

• Train workers to recognize fall hazards and how to protect themselves.

• Use appropriate systems and methods to prevent falls and to protect workers if they do fall.

• Inspect and maintain fall-protection equipment before and after using it.

• Become familiar with Oregon OSHA’s fall protection rules.

Why do we need protection from falling?

We need protection because even if we are experienced with working at heights, we can still lose our balance or grip. We can
slip, trip, or misstep, and fall at any time. We may think that our reflexes will protect us, but we can fall before we have time to
react. And we don’t have to fall far to get hurt.

What is your fall protection role?

Everyone involved in a construction project has a role to play in preventing falls.

Employers: Prevent falls by planning to safely get the job done, providing the right fall protection equipment, and
training all workers to use the equipment safely

Employees. Follow safe work practices, properly use fall protection equipment and participate in training. Recognize
fall hazards and unsafe practices, know the jobs that increase the risk of falling, and understand how to eliminate and
control exposures to fall hazards.

General Contractors: Take reasonable steps to provide for frequent and regular inspections of the jobsite to identify
hazards and to eliminate or control employee exposure to them, including fall hazards.

Architects and engineers. Educate employers about hazards that could expose workers to falls during each phase
of a construction project. When designing buildings and structures, consider fall protection and other safety needs for
those who will do the construction work and those who will eventually need to perform maintenance.

Building owners and managers. Ensure that those who do exterior construction or maintenance work know how
to protect themselves from falls, are aware of the location of installed anchorages, and know how to use their fall
protection equipment. Maintain engineering documentation on permanently installed anchors for future reference.

Equipment manufacturers. Ensure that fall protection equipment meets OSHA and American National Standards
Institute (ANSI) safety requirements and protects workers when they properly use it. Warn workers through instruction
manuals and equipment labels about the danger of improperly using equipment.

Lawyers. RReview your client’s construction bids to ensure they comply with Oregon OSHA requirements. The
documents should clearly state the client’s responsibilities for protecting workers from falls and for identifying and
controlling hazards that cause falls.

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