Tag Archives: Fall Protection

Winter Weather Safety

 

When winter weather strikes, it is important for construction sites to stay active and productive. Bitter cold, snow and ice can cause conditions that are damaging to equipment and could cause personal risk; leading to jobs falling behind schedule. To reduce the chance of injury or downtime, read on for tips to stay safe & to keep your team working at their highest productivity.

 

 

Personal Safety in Winter Conditions

·        Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls

As temperatures approach the freezing point, it is necessary for your company to take the proper steps in preventing slips, trips & falls. Thin patches of ice begin to occur when air temperatures reach the 30s and become dangerous quickly. No matter what kind of construction site you are working on, it is important to always put your team’s safety first.

In the winter months, proper personal protective equipment (PPE), plays a significant role in keeping employees safe. Non-slip footwear is essential in preventing slips, trips & falls & clothing, such as gloves, jackets & hardhat liners allow employees to stay comfortable and warm on site.

Like inappropriate footwear, equipment and ladders create additional job site hazards in the winter months. Avoid hazards while climbing onto equipment by conducting routine inspections for surface ice.  If any ice or snow is detected, clear the surface immediately and be sure your team’s footwear is also free of snow and ice. As always, assure your team is in their fall protection for additional safety.

·        Recognizing Cold Related Illness & Knowing First Aid

Workers can experience serious health complications due to freezing temperatures, preventing sickness in the winter is ideal, but in many situations, cold related illness may still occur.  Recognizing cold related illness, such as hypothermia, frostbite & trench foot, and knowing basic first aid, can be lifesaving on your job site. 

  • Hypothermia

When exposed to the cold, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce. This causes your body to use much of its stored energy, leading to hypothermia. Early signs of hypothermia include shivering, loss of coordination, confusion & feeling fatigued. Prolonged hypothermia leads to blue skin, dilation of the pupils, lowered pulse rate & a possible loss of consciousness.

If an individual on your team is experiencing the symptoms of hypothermia please alert the job supervisor and request medical assistance. Move the victim into a warm area and remove any wet clothing, covering with additional clothing or blankets; warm beverages may help increase the victims body temperature. Once the body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and warm.

  • Frostbite

A loss of feeling and color in cold affected areas can be defined as frostbite. Areas most often affected are the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can cause permanent damage to body tissue and may even lead to limb amputation. Symptoms of frostbite include reduced blood flow, numbness, tingling & stinging, aches and pail waxy skin.

Workers that are suffering with the symptoms of frostbite should immediately find warmth. The victim should avoid using the affected appendage and immerse it in warm (NOT HOT) water. If no warm water is available keep the affected area warm with body heat – do not rub or massage the frostbitten area and do not expose to heat, as it may cause additional damage or burns.

  • Trench Foot

Also known as immersion foot, trench foot is an injury caused by exposure to wet and cold conditions over a prolonged time. Trench foot can occur in temperatures up to 60°F if the individual’s feet are constantly wet. This injury occurs because wet feet lose heat at a higher rate than dry feet and to prevent heat loss, the body constricts all blood circulation to the victim’s feet. Symptoms include discoloration, numbness, lower body cramping, swelling, blisters and bleeding under the skin.

To care for trench foot, remove the victim’s shoe or boots, as well as their socks. Dry the victim’s feet and be sure to avoid walking as it may cause additional damage & seek medical attention.

Preparing for Harsh Weather Conditions

With the change of season, it is important to keep an eye out for the health and safety of yourself & other employees. Taking breaks in heated areas and proper hydration are essential to winter safety. Time away from the elements in a heated area should be encouraged in order for employees to stay dry. Breaks are also a great location to check for the sign of cold related illness. For information on providing your job site with a heated break area, click here.

 

Now that you know the dangers of winter conditions & how to prepare for them, you will be better able to stay active and productive in the winter months. For further preparation we recommend keeping an updated calendar and having a set breaking system to keep your employees safe.

Is A Harness Required?

When are you required to use a harness? The short answer to this question is: it’s complicated. There are many variables that contribute to when a worker is required to wear a harness such as working heights, the type of equipment, job site conditions and company policies. However, a good starting point is to refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s requirements that state: 

General Industry requires fall protection for any worker over 4’. 1910.28(b)(1)(i)

Construction requires fall protection for any worker over 6’. 1926.501(b)(1)

Instances where the general height rules do not apply include when job sites are in/around certain safety hazards like dangerous equipment, machinery or hazardous materials into which workers could fall. In these situations, fall protection or authorized guarding is required regardless of the working height. 

James Lennartz, Training Manager at Hugg & Hall, recently spoke on the many considerations related to fall protection and when harnesses are and aren’t necessary. 

“When it comes to the requirements of wearing fall protection it depends on both the equipment and/or the local/state/employer requirements,” said Lennartz. “According to the ANSI Standard (ANSI/SAIA A92.22); the guardrail system of the Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP) is the primary fall protection for occupants.”

“When required to use personal fall protection, either fall restraint or fall arrest, operators and occupants shall comply with the instructions provided by the manufacture regarding anchorage(s),” said Lennartz. “Basically, if the person is using a scissor lift (Group A) they are not required to wear a safety harness as the guardrail system is adequate enough to provide fall protection. Now, local/state or employer can require an operator to wear a safety harness. If the MEWP is a boom lift (Group B), then here it is. All group B MEWP operators and occupants shall use personal fall arrest or fall restraint systems at all times.” 

Specific rules may vary based on the companies and organizations involved as well as federal/state/local laws. Lennartz spoke on Hugg & Hall’s own policy regarding fall protection. 

“Our drivers are required to wear a harness when loading and unloading booms only. We also require the same of customers and other drivers when on our yards,” said Lennartz.

Exceptions

There are a few exceptions to the basic rules and workers/managers always need to be trained on and understand the organizational rules and federal/state/local laws governing their job site. Safety should always be the first priority and fall protection is an important and essential part of work site safety. 

Fall Protection: What You Need to Know

Fall Protection: What You Need to Know

It’s important to understand the rules to ensure your following them, so we’ve put together a quick guide on the basics of fall protection requirements for mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs). Under the OSHA Aerial Lift Regulation, the employer, user and operator of a lift are all responsible for providing approved fall protection to employees/users. For boom-type lifts, personal fall arrest systems have specific requirements which must be met to remain within compliance. These requirements involve calculating fall distance and potential arresting force.

There are a couple of options for personal fall protection equipment for boom-type MEWPs. One is a full body harness with fall restraint system and the other is a full body harness with a self-retracting life/lanyard system. These systems are specifically required to not allow for the operator to fall more than 6 feet or to exceed 1,800 pounds in arresting force. Operators cannot come into contact with any lower surface.

Fall restraint and fall arrest are two categories of fall protection, according to an article published by Grainger.  A fall restraint system can be used to help prevent the worker from falling or being thrown from the platform and include: a short or adjustable restraint lanyard and a body belt or a full-body harness. A fall arrest system is used to minimize the distances and consequences of a fall should one occur. They are designed to provide freedom of movement for the worker and include: a self-retracting lifeline and a full body harness.

Some factors must be taken into consideration before the self-retracting/lanyard system can be used. First, the fall restraint lanyard must be used during travel and when platform height is below the calculated total fall distance. The fall arrest lanyard can be used when the platform height is above the calculated total fall distance and, secondly, when the body belt with fall restraint is arranged so that the employee is not exposed to falling any distance outside the platform.

When calculating the total fall distance, it’s important to take into consideration the following (according to an article published by Aerial Pros):

  • Lanyard free fall distance (a)
  • Maximum allowable deceleration distance (b)
  • Maximum lock‐up length (for the self‐retracting lifeline/lanyard only) (a+b)
  • The height of the operator (c)
  • Safety factor (a suitable amount to ensure that the required clearance between the operator and the lower surface is met) (d)
    • Any stretch in the lifeline or lanyard outside of the deceleration distance.
    • Any harness effects
    • Any movement of the platform due to dynamic loading
    • Any obstructions under the platform

Other fall protection requirements which OSHA enforces, include:

  • Ensure that access gates or openings are closed.
  • Stand firmly on the floor of the bucket or lift platform.
  • Do not climb on or lean over guardrails or handrails.
  • Do not use planks, ladders, or other devices as a working position.
  • Use a body harness or a restraining belt with a lanyard attached to the boom or bucket.
  • Do not belt-off to adjacent structures or poles while in the bucket.

For more detailed information on the rules and standards which regular fall arrest systems read the following OSHA and ANSI documents, according to the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), a not-for-profit organization owned by its members, which include manufacturers, rental companies, distributors, contractors and users.

For more information, please contact your local OSHA agency, your local fall protection supplier or visit: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/aerial-lifts-factsheet.html