New Fall Protection Innovations Protect Workers in Air & On Ground from Potential Safety Risks

If you’re overseeing a team as a contractor, foreman, or supervisor one of your biggest goals every day is to make sure your team goes home safely to their family. If your team does any work at height, planning, providing the right equipment, and training your team to do it properly can go a long way toward achieving that goal.

According to the National Safety Council, 880 workers died from falls and 244,000 were injured badly enough to require days off work in 2019. In the construction industry, OSHA lists falls as the leading cause of death.  In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of a fall rescue plan, and detail new innovations aimed at further protecting your team from accidental falls.

man securing fall protection equipment on construction site

Fall Protection Rescue Plans

OSHA has long required employers to provide a site-specific rescue plan for fall protection. While OSHA provides a fall protection rescue plan sample for companies to model their own after, many are operating with a less than complete plan. Too often, the rescue plan is to simply call the fire department. But when someone is hanging from a harness, time is of the essence. What if the fire department is on another call, or stuck with a train on the tracks between you and their ladder truck? Even if they are able to respond quickly, how long will it take them to get up to speed on the layout of your facility or jobsite?

A rescue plan ensures that you’ve considered and prepared for all of the worst-case scenarios, but it’s only valuable if your entire team is trained and knows how to use it. A fall protection rescue plan isn’t a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it initiative. Over time, equipment and best practices change. Fall protection plans need to be revisited on an ongoing basis to ensure the plan in place today still works with the equipment being used on the job.

Built-In Rescue Integration from 3M

Fall protection has typically been all about the ABCs: anchor point, body harness, and connecting device. And while these three elements of fall protection will help protect someone from injury due to impact, they don’t account for safely removing and rescuing the individual from their grasp. If that doesn’t happen quickly enough, it can lead to suspension trauma syndrome. Suspension trauma syndrome occurs when the human body is held upright without any movement for an extended period of time. Symptoms can begin to occur quickly after a suspended fall, and can start to get serious in as little as twenty minutes.

That’s why 3M is incorporating rescue systems into all fall protection harnesses going forward. Rescue systems are designed to lengthen the amount of time someone can go without being rescued after a suspended fall. They feature a stirrup or strap for the individual to insert their foot and release pressure on their legs. Rescue systems by themselves are not new, but incorporating them into the body harness design is an innovation from 3M to ensure harness users wear them and have them available if needed.

Dropped Tool Protection

The first thing we think about in fall protection is protecting the worker who is doing their job at a height that poses a danger. But what about the people working on the ground below them? A screwdriver, wrench, or any other tool dropped from a significant height poses a massive risk for anyone or anything below it.

For that reason, manufacturers such as 3M and Guardian Fall Protection are now developing products to tether tools and other PPE, like hardhats, to the wearer and prevent dropped objects from becoming a direct impact or deflection hazard to people working below. Just like the fall protection standards for people, these solutions rely on the ABC components to ensure there’s an anchor point, body support, and connector for all loose items that could potentially go airborne when working at height.

Arc-Rated Fall Protection Safety Harnesses

When flowing current leaves its intended conductor and travels through the air to another conductor or the ground, an arc occurs. It occurs with little warning and can be caused by dust, condensation, corrosion, or electrical equipment malfunction and failure. Arc flashes can produce blast pressure strong enough to throw objects through the air and knock people to the ground. According to Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, arc temperatures can reach 35,000°, hot enough to melt metal and send droplets flying. If performing electrical work at a height that requires fall protection PPE, it’s incredibly important that your team be using arc-rated fall protection safety anchors, connectors, and body harnesses to ensure their equipment holds up in the presence of an arc flash.

French Gerleman Works With the Leaders in Fall Protection

In your line of work, you’ve likely heard “safety is no accident” more times than you’d care to count. But it’s true. And it’s also no accident that we partner with the manufacturers we do for fall protection solutions. The French Gerleman team is your source for the latest innovations in fall protection from proven, time-tested manufacturers. To learn more about the products covered here and the others that might be more suited to your application, contact your account manager or reach out to your nearest branch location. We can work with you to equip your team to safely and securely get the job done and get home to their families.

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