Safety Articles

Article # 9301

Fall Protection Programs Spring Into Action.

According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal work injuries fell nearly 3% in 1996 to 6,112. That's the lowest number in the five-year history of the Bureau's Census.

However, despite this overall downward trend, fatalities from falls have continued to rise. The number in 1996 was 684, which was 11% of the total fatal work injuries.

These statistics more than demonstrate the need for organizations to implement an effective fall protection program.
William Becker, safety coordinator for a major construction equipment manufacturer knows the importance of a good fall protection program. Beckers products and services set the standard in some of the world's most competitive industries, including earthmoving machines for the mining industry, log handling equipment for forestry applications, jack-up rigs and cranes for marine use as well as product handling equipment used in intermodal operations.

The manufacturer of construction equipment has specially trained marine crews are prepared to perform activities all around the world. With more than a million man hours of experience, the company provides support for ever construction jack-up rig. Whether extending a leg length 350 feet above the water plane or making nominal offshore repairs, these highly qualified personnel know the importance of fall protection equipment Becker adds, "The harness and lanyard are the only things keeping the workers safe at these heights."

With Magid supplying the fall protection equipment, including full body harnesses and lanyards, the marine service crew is well protected. Becker credits his Magid representative with helping to develop special attachments to secure the lanyards to the rigs, as well as the new shoulder and back supports that the equipment welders use. "Our needs are somewhat unique," notes Becker. "Our workers are often out on the rigs for up to 12 hours per day. They need secure protection and comfortable support. Magid has been very helpful in providing the solutions that meet our needs."

When Dan Ticker and his safety team rolled out the new "Working at Heights" program at their car company assembly plant, Magid was a valued resource. Ticker, safety manager at a plant that builds one of the trucks, noted that height exposure is not part of a typical day at his facility, but it is a factor occasionally. "We do as much as we can to reduce exposure to height in our day-to-day work, but sometimes skilled trades workers or professional painters need to perform their work up high. So we must be fully equipped with a solid fall protection program. Our Magid rep has been an asset. He's been very responsive in meeting our needs. Working with Magid has been a very positive experience. Their customer service, in particular, has been top-notch."

Dick Deets, from a sugar manufacturer, also recognizes the contributions of his Magid representative in his fall protection program. Deets, director of loss control for this sugar manufacturer, notes that "Our rep usually has the answers we're looking for. And they always get back to us with same-day service. That's very important to us."

Deets uses a full arsenal of fall protection equipment in the loading area of his facility. Workers on the loading docks are high off the ground, filling trucks and railcars with sugar. "The weather is almost always working against us," claims Deets. "In the winter we're faced with snow and ice and other times of year, there may be dew in the loading area. There's a lot of risk." Workers on the dockwear self-retracting lanyards that run on an I-beam. Deets claims that they're safe, protected, and comfortable. If a worker begins to fall, the lanyard locks within a few inches to keep him or her in place.

The sugar manufacturer has many more needs for fall protection, but one of the more unique applications is in the silos where the sugar is stored at the facility. According to Deets, maintenance of these silos is "quite a project." He notes that even routine maintenance requires that workers go down inside the silos. And sometimes two workers are required to go down together to correct problems. The workers, who must wear white sanitary suits and booties into the silos, are fitted with harnesses attached to 95-foot steel retractable lifelines to go down and do their jobs.

The confined spaces of the silos pose other challenges. "We use a stationary anchoring system to crank the workers down into the silo," Deets notes. "The challenge has been to find better anchorage points that can be accessible by 2 people. That's where Magid's expertise is so valuable. They've worked with our engineering department to keep coming up with better solutions for our unique situation. When the new equipment for our silos was introduced, Magid was tireless in its efforts to properly demonstrate the equipment and train our employees."

Deets from the sugar manufacturer, Becker from the construction equipment manufacturer and Ticker from the large car manufacturer don't need statistics to convince them of the importance of a good fall protection plan. They're committed to providing their employees superior quality and maximum comfort in a program designed to create a safe, productive and incidence-free workplace.