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Fall Protection Toolbox Talk

In this fall protection toolbox talk, learn the common causes of falls on construction sites, fall prevention tips, and basic ladder safety.

Fall Protection Safety Talk

In the workplace one of the leading causes of serious injuries and even death are falls. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH in 2018 27% of the nonfatal work, injuries were related to slips, trips, and falls in the workplace.Falls are a hazard found in many workplaces.

A fall can occur while someone is walking, climbing a ladder, or simply trying to fix something. Falls are the leading cause of general workplace accidents and the injuries can range in severity. Some people only experience bruises, swelling while others have reported head injuries, broken bones, and lacerations.

Causes of Falls in the Workplace

In every workplace the risk for falls is present, the only difference being the factors that can lead to the fall. Employees can do acts that are considered unsafe as well as unsafe workplace conditions. When a fall occurs it can be because of both of these factors combined. It is important to try to prevent falls before they happen.

Unsafe Conditions

Unsafe conditions in the workplace can make it easy for an accident to happen. Some of these conditions include:

  • Slippery, cluttered, or unstable walking or working surfaces

  • Unprotected edges

  • Floor holes and wall openings

  • Unsafely positioned ladders

  • Misused fall protection

  • Improper guardrails

  • Damaged equipment (ladders, stairs, etc.)

  • Unmarked elevation changes

  • Wet or slippery floors

Unsafe Acts

Sometimes falls happen because of unsafe actions of employees that can often be avoided. These include:

  • Working at heights without fall protection

  • Improper use of ladders

  • Leaning over guardrail

  • Not paying attention

construction worker walking up levels with fall protection.

Fall Protection Best Practices

Performing a risk assessment by a qualified member of the staff in workplaces areas will assist in identifying hazards. This in turn can help reduce the risk of accidents. You can also reduce the potential hazards that lead to slips, trips, and falls by proactively managing your workplace environment to help lower risks to employees and customers.

1. Walking Surfaces

Keep walking surfaces clean and free of clutter. If you keep walkways clear you can quickly reduce the potential for injury. An obstructed path minimizes the opportunity for anyone to trip over an unexpected object and reduces the potential for a fall or slip.

2. Stairways and Handrails

Stairs are a common area for falls in a workplace and sometimes additional care is needed to reduce the risk here. Make sure stairways are well lit, clear of objects and debris, and free of unsecured objects. Do not run or jump on the stairs and only take one stair at a time. Always use handrails when climbing or walking downstairs.

3. Manage Cords

From extension cords, power cords, internet cords, phone cords, machine cords, and every other cord they can create a sea of obstacles for employees and customers alike. Try to keep cords out of the site and behind walls or furniture. Never have cords running across a walkway.

4. Footwear

Make sure you are wearing the proper footwear for the job you are performing. Open to shoes should never be worn in a factory setting. Shoes with proper traction should always be worn as well as slip-resistant shoes.

5. Lighting

Proper lighting inside and outside of your work area should always be used. Never try walking in the dark. Steps and tripping hazards can be hidden if a room is dark or has a shadow this is why lighting is important.

6. Signage

If you know of a potential problem, try to make sure there is adequate signage there. A sign indicating a step, a gap, uneven ground, or even loose rocks will call attention to the area and let others know to be more attentive. If you know the floor is wet even a wet floor sign can help others from potentially falling. If you see an area needing a sign please alert your supervisor.

7. Ladders and Step Stools

Use ladders and step stools with caution. Get someone to hold the bottom of the ladder when you are climbing. Never stand in a chair or on a desk or table to reach something.

8. Check Floors

When you are walking make sure you pay attention to the ground. If you see a crack or a hole try to avoid this area. Point these areas out to your supervisor so they can look into getting them fixed.

9. Clean Up Spills

If you spill something, clean it up immediately. Do not leave it for someone else to do. When a spill occurs immediately place a hazard sign near the spill and get to work cleaning it up properly.

Ladder Safety

Employees should follow certain rules when using ladders. Whether they are climbing up the ladder or climbing down, the same ladder safety rules apply.

  • Hold on with both hands. If you need to take the material up or down do so using a rope.

  • Always face the ladder when going up or down.

  • Never slide down a ladder.

  • Be sure your shoes are clean of mud and grease and are not slippery.

  • Do not climb higher than the third rung from the top of the ladder.

  • Carry tools on a tool belt and not in your hands.

  • Use a 4 to 1 ratio when leaning a single or extension ladder.

  • Inspect the ladder for defects before using it.

  • Never use a defective ladder.

  • Never splice or lash a short ladder together.

  • Never use makeshift ladders.

  • Make sure the ladder is fully open when in use.

  • Keep ladders clean from dirt and grease.

  • Never use during strong and high winds.

  • Never jump from a ladder.

Fall Prevention Is Your Best Protection

Remember falls can be prevented. They are often due to someone being careless or clumsy. It is critical to pay attention to what you are doing and to survey your work area for potential hazards. If you see something that needs attention, let a supervisor know immediately. If you slip, trip, or fall at work no matter how small you think your injury is you should also advise your supervisor.

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