Fall Prevention vs. Fall Protection
One of the most common, and potentially most dangerous, types of accidents in most workplaces is related to falling. Whether this means falling down stairs, falling from great heights or just tripping and falling, it is important to make sure to take precautions in order to minimize this risk.
Most facilities do a fairly good job with fall protection by using harnesses (such as the Miller Harnesses) and other safety devices to help catch people when they fall to minimize injuries. It is much better, however, to try to prevent the fall from ever occurring in the first place. The following five reasons will show why that is the case for all facilities and worksites.
According to OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign:
FALLS ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN CONSTRUCTION. In 2013, there were 294 fall fatalities (284 falls to lower level) out of 796 total fatalities in construction. These deaths are preventable.
† 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics are preliminary
5 Reasons Why Fall Prevention is More Important then Fall Protection
1. Prevention is Much Safer
While fall protection equipment is extremely important, it often won’t prevent all injuries. If someone is working on a high rise construction site, for example, and they fall, they could still be injured from the stress of the safety harness.
The better solution is to put up railings when possible, and teach those working at heights how to identify situations where falling is more likely. By preventing the fall completely, there is no risk of the individual getting hurt.
2. Prevention Avoids Work Interruptions
When someone experiences a fall and is kept safe by some type of personal protection equipment, it will still require work to stop while the accident is investigated. The individual will also have to report the issue and learn how to avoid it in the future.
If someone is on a ladder, for example, and it begins to tip, they may be kept safe by a harness or other equipment. The better option, however, is to ensure everyone is trained on how to safely place ladders and how to work on them without becoming destabilized. While the training will take some time, it will be well worth it by avoiding this work interruption.
3. Prevention is Cheaper
There are some types of fall protection equipment that can really only be used once, or may be damaged while protecting the employee. If someone is protected from falling down the stairs, for example, they may be protected by a helmet or other safety pads, which could become damaged.
The better option is to alert people to the presence of the stairs so they can be more easily seen when walking in the area. This can be done by using floor marking tape (which you can find here), safety signs or any number of other types of safety products.
4. Prevention is Easier
Many of the fall protection options are actually quite complicated and difficult to implement. Setting up safety harnesses and other things, for example, can take a lot of time. While they may be necessary, it is often a better solution to simply have people avoid an area where falling is possible. Providing training on how to avoid falling is also an easy and long term way to reduce the risk of this type of accident.
5. Prevention Attracts Less Attention
All accidents, even those that don’t result in a serious injury, need to be logged and often reported to places like OSHA. Even if nobody is hurt at all, these types of things are supposed to be reported. This is not the type of incident that you want on your record if at all possible.
This is why preventing an accident through any number of good prevention techniques is going to be far better when it comes to regulations and potentially incurring fines or penalties.
Protecting your Employees with Fall Prevention
The bottom line here is that while protecting your employees from falls is absolutely essential, it is equally important to look into how to prevent these falls in the first place. Using simple things like safety tape, signs and training will help to keep people safe while they conduct their jobs.