Fall Prevention and Fall Protection Requirements
Ladders vary greatly in both design and construction. Safety is the one thing they all have in common. A strong ladder safety program should incorporate the following elements:
- TRAINING. Train workers on which ladder is right for the job. Ladders are made of a variety of materials (wood, fiberglass, metal) and range from a small step stool to a large platform. Part of the job analysis process is identifying the correct tools for the job in advance – ladders included.
- MAINTENANCE. Routine inspection of ladders is recommended to assure stability at all times. If the structural integrity of a ladder is ever compromised, it should be removed from service immediately. Ladders should be viewed daily for loose or missing rivets, broken steps, or other damage. A more thorough inspection should be conducted on a monthly basis as part of routine facility maintenance.
- SETUP. Stability matters. Ladders should always be set on stable ground. If a ladder is being used on sloped ground, it should have a tripod stabilizer pole, and there should be a spotter on the ground with the worker at all times. The ladder should be secured at the top with hooks or a ladder stabilizer to prevent the top of the ladder from pushing away from the structure you are climbing.
- FALL PREVENTION. Train workers on how to safely ascend and descend the ladder. That starts with maintaining a center of gravity when climbing and includes 3-point contact, non-slip shoes with a defined heel, and hands-free climbing. A large number of falls occur each year due to workers carrying tools in one hand and not maintaining proper contact and balance. Workers should not over-reach and should not stand on the top step of a ladder.
- FALL PROTECTION. Fall protection harnesses are generally not required when using portable ladders, but definitely apply when climbing fixed/stationary ladders of 24′ or more in height. There are times, however, that harnesses may be warranted. For example, climbing ladder up the side of a building near an open trench. This scenario may be rare, but illustrates the importance of knowing your surroundings and utilizing the proper protective equipment for the job.
And, while it appears to go without saying, please reinforce the concept of ONE worker per ladder. Injuries caused by more than one person on a ladder are reported each year. The number is not necessarily high, but the injuries caused from these falls tend to be severe.
To learn more about ladder safety, visit OSHA 29 CFR.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact our Kansas City commercial risk management firm or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Is your business prepared for a disaster? Check out this Disaster Recovery Guide from Telco for some great tips on how to protect your data and recover quickly from a crisis. Be prepared for disasters by drafting a thorough business continuity plan that addresses:
- Chain of command
- Call list of essential personnel
- Physical resources (equipment, supplies, triage resources, food)
- Master vendor and supply list, including reserve PO’s if needed
- Identification of personnel with special skills (bilingual, nursing or EMT credentials, notaries public, and other unique qualifications)
- Alternative response plans for various disasters (biological, natural, terrorism, etc.)
You cannot prepare for every scenario, but you can establish general protocols to help reduce the chaos that occurs post-event and aid your organization in a timely, organized recovery effort.
What’s the true cost of a lost-time accident?
Employee A climbs a 6′ ladder, but cannot reach high enough overhead to perform the necessary work. Rather than retrieving a platform ladder, Employee A enlists the help of Employee B. Employee B climbs the ladder. Employee A climbs the ladder and attempts to climb onto Employee B’s shoulders. All come tumbling down. True story.
Employee A suffered serious head injuries and incurred medicals in excess of $60,000. Employee B suffered strains, sprains, and contusions, and incurred medicals of approximately $8,000. Employee A was off work for several months before returning on light duty and transitioning back to full-time status. Employee B was off work approximately 2 weeks.
Direct costs of this accident include the +/- $68,000 medical treatment, the entirety of the employees’ time off, and the immediate lost production due to the incident.
What are the indirect costs of this accident? Time spent responding to and cleaning up after this avoidable incident, investigating the incident, filing and processing the workers compensation claim, time spent hiring and training a temporary employee, potential ongoing lost production due to temporary staffing and learning curves, damage to any affected property or equipment involved in the accident, cost of workers compensation wages/premiums, potential reduced employee morale, time spent completing OSHA paperwork for reportable accidents, potential OSHA fines and penalties, potential costs to defend any litigation brought by the injured employees against the company, including time and money spent responding to discovery, attending depositions, and preparing for trial, regardless of whether the case goes to trial.
Some of these costs are tangible, while others are not. An employer’s reputation, for example, can suffer tremendously when a worker is hurt and the public perceives the employer to be at fault or careless in providing a safe work environment.
While this particular accident shows blatantly poor judgment on the part of the employee and never should have happened, it did. In addition to the tens of thousands of direct-loss dollars associated with this claim, the employer suffered extensive additional losses. These indirect losses can have a serious impact on your business.
Be prepared. Take safety seriously and develop your safety policies and procedures before you need them. An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.
Boosting employee morale extends beyond the money and the perks, and sometimes requires a little creativity and silliness. Thanks to our friends at Rombourne Serviced Offices for asking us to participate in their team-building activity survey! Read on to learn how to Beat the New Year Blues: How to increase office morale in January … or beat cabin fever in March … or summertime heat in June … or holiday anxiety in December … These tips are great year round.
Prevention and Treatment Tips for Heat Related Illnesses
The temperature in my hometown on June 13, 1980 was above 100˚ with a heat index of 113˚. I remember these numbers clearly, as my father was one of many heat-related deaths during the summer heat wave of 1980.
Summer should be a time of barbeques, swimming, family vacations, gardening, fishing, mowing the grass, and basking in golden rays of sunshine. And it can be, if you learn to respect the heat.
Your responsibility to your outdoor workers is two-fold in the summer: (1) assure that they remain hydrated and protected, and (2) recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and know how to respond accordingly. The following tips will help you protect your most valuable assets:
Heat takes a toll on the body, and everyone has a different tolerance to conditions. The following tips are provided to help prevent heat-related illness:
- Schedule work to alleviate full-day exposure to the heat
- Summer hours may need to be adjusted to an earlier or later shift in order to avoid the peak heat of the day, typically between 12:00 am and 4:00 pm
- Keep cool bottled water accessible to your workers at all times
- Recommended water intake is 4 cups per hour (1 Liter)
- Water should be consumed steadily throughout the day
- Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks
- Chilled fruits like grapes and strawberries are another good source of hydration and can help cool the body temperature down
- Eat light meals – vegetables and fruits contain higher water content
- Dress in light, breathable clothing (cotton)
- Keep chilled towels for workers to wipe their faces or drape around their necks
- Schedule frequent breaks in designated shade or cooling areas where workers can rest out of the direct sunlight
- Employees should pace themselves – safe always wins over speed
- Wear sunscreen and brimmed hats, when possible
USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM
The buddy system is not just for kids. When working in severe heat, it is critical that your employees watch out for one another. This means they need to know the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat-related illnesses. Muscles spasms usually occur first in the arms or legs and typically result from the loss of salt and electrolytes that occurs from sweating. Workers experiencing heat cramps should recognize this symptom as a need to drink water.
What to do: Drinking a cup of water for every 15 minutes of direct exposure (1L per hour) will help prevent heat cramps. If a worker experiences heat cramps, they should sit in a shaded area, drink water, and do some gentle stretches
Heat exhaustion is a serious indication that the body is overheating and requires immediate attention. Signs of heat exhaustion may include:
- Rapid breathing
- Clammy, cool-to-the-touch skin
- Dizziness or fainting
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Headache, nausea, or vomiting
- Rapid or weak pulse
- Paleness or weakness
- Flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea
What to do: Move the worker to a cool area, loosen any tight or restrictive clothing, apply cool wet towels to the skin or spray the person with cool water. Fan the person and get them to drink water slowly. If the overheated person won’t drink, starts to vomit, or passes out, call 911 for immediate medical attention.
Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat-related illnesses and requires immediate medical attention. Heat stroke indicates that the body can no longer cool itself and is an immediate health threat. Heat stroke often leads to severe organ damage or death. DIAL 911!
Signs of heat stroke include:
- Hot, red skin
- Body temperature of 104˚ or higher
- Lack of sweating
- Chills or vomiting
- Rapid pulse
- Slurred speech
- Disorientation, confusion, or total loss of consciousness
What to do: DIAL 911!
- Move the worker to a shaded, cool area
- Position the person to a half-sitting stance
- Remove tight clothing and fan the person
- Immerse the worker in cold water or apply cold, wet towels or ice to the skin
- Do NOT allow the worker to drink
Preventing heat-related illnesses is everyone’s responsibility. Train your workers in what to look for and how to respond to heat exposures and related illnesses, and have a safe summer!
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact our safety and risk management firm in Kansas City or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.