Is It Safe To Work At Heights With Protection?

- Sep 17, 2020-

Falling from height accident is the first of all types of accidents, and it is a training subject that safety personnel cannot avoid. In addition to the well-known fall protection is very important, there is also a risk that is easily overlooked by everyone, that is, even though fall protection equipment is worn, there will still be accidents-shaking and falling.

Swinging and falling are not as fun as swinging on a swing. In fact, swinging and falling can be very dangerous. However, many people do not consider the problem of swaying and falling when working at heights. So, what is a swing and fall?

A swing fall is when you wear a personal fall protection system (PFAS-safety belt, safety rope, anchor point), you will not be directly anchored on the top of your head. If you fall, you will swing back and forth around the anchor point like a pendulum. If it happens to be a building structure nearby, you will hit the building heavily during the swing.

In the scene above. There may be no hard structures around you. Even so, as long as you work outside the 30° safe area, there is still danger. Imagine your work surface is 12 feet (3.6 meters) above the ground. During your work, you will work 20 feet (6 meters) away from the anchor point-away from safe areas. If you fall in this situation, you may not hit another building structure, but you will fall heavily to the ground. Remember, the self-retracting lifeline does not retract when it falls, but locks. The entire 6-meter safety rope will remain extended, and then you will hit the ground hard.

This is a very real problem. After most people wear safety belts and safety ropes, they no longer consider their fall protection. They stretch the lanyard in all directions as much as possible, completely unaware of the danger of swaying and falling, and it is often too late when they find danger.

So, how can we prevent it?

Except not going beyond the working edge in the first place, the only way to prevent a rocking fall is to stay within a certain distance of the anchor point. When your seat belt is overhead (remember, in order to keep your free fall at 6'or lower, the anchor point should be at least as high as the D-ring of the seat belt attached to the lanyard), avoid swinging amplitude More than 30° of the anchor point. The farther away from the anchor point and the forward swing, the greater the force that strikes the structure.

However, there are currently no feasible recommendations on how to keep workers within a safety zone of 30°. In some cases, existing technology can help. For example, when your anchor point is an exposed I-beam parallel to the edge of the job, you can use a hand-push beam clamp. When the worker moves, it will roll along the beam, but this scenario is special and rare. Horizontal safety lines have a similar effect, but when your anchor point is static, you have to consider other options. Usually, the anchor point must change position at all times, so drawing or marking the safe area (especially during construction) is difficult to operate in practice.

Like most other security risks, security issues can actually be reduced to awareness issues. Think back to your last fall from height training course. Is there any discussion on the issue of rocking and falling? If not, then you need to discuss the danger of swaying and falling with personnel involved in high-altitude operations during the pre-shift meeting or technical presentation. Let them understand the safety zone. If their work exceeds the safety zone, they should stop working and discuss with the technicians how to proceed. Only when workers know that there is a risk of swaying and falling can such accidents be avoided.

Remember: avoid false sense of security. Even if there is a fall prevention device, incorrect use may cause injury.