Safety Articles

Article # 9300

Avoiding a Fall

If the legendary fall guy, Humpty Dumpty, had been wearing the proper fall protection equipment as he sat on the wall, he would not have had a problem.

Providing workers with the proper fall protection equipment is one of the most important aspects of a company's safety efforts. Just ask Safety Engineer, Brad Pearson, and his supervisor, Carl Angel, the two men responsible for the stellar fall protection program at the world's largest engine manufacturing plant.

The plant's four engine lines churn out more than 8,800 engines per day. Throughout the sprawling engine plant, the work of skilled trades people, such as electricians and painters, often takes them to locations high above the factory floor. For instance, the plant's electricians have recently been called on to run conduit and cable for the ever-expanding computer network Even a simple chore like changing a light bulb can require a worker to climb to great heights.

High Level Precautions
"We have a vast number of people at risk of falling within our complex," says Pearson. "That's why our written fall protection policy requires that fall protection equipment must be worn wherever there is a potential for a fall of six feet or more."

As part of their fall protection strategy, Pearson has instructed the engineers responsible for implementing the plant's fall protection policy to establish anchorage points throughout the complex. When an employee is working above ground level, he is instructed to attach a shock-absorbing lanyard to the back D-ring (securing ring) on his full body harness and the opposing end of the lanyard to one of the strategically located anchorage points.

Because the work generates iron dust, many of the plant's workers wear protective coveralls over their harness. To allow workers to remain in their coveralls while using the proper fall protection equipment, Magid designed a special coverall, made from Tyvek®, which permits the fall protection harness to be worn underneath the coveralls with only the D-ring exposed. "We were really impressed with Magid's ingenuity in solving this problem," says Pearson.

Safety in the Bag
At the plant, there are more than 550 workers who require fall protection training, which is conducted by the UAW Center for Health and Safety. During the nine-hour training course, workers witness what happens to a body during a fall and how a full body harness and shock absorbing lanyard work to keep the shock load below 900 foot pounds of force. "Even people who've been here 20 or 30 years learn something new during this training program," says Pearson. "The fall hazard program has made a lot of believers here."

After completing the training program, GM supplies its workers with their own fall protection equipment bag. The heavy-duty duffel bad includes a variety of PPE such as a standard hard hat, a positioning and shock absorbing lanyard, and personal full body harness from Rose Manufacturing. "The bag gives the worker a sense of ownership of the equipment," says Pearson. "They know that if they take care of the equipment, it could save their life."