Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must assess the workplace to determine if walking or working surfaces have the necessary strength and structural integrity to safely support the workers. Then, the employer must provide fall protection and the right tools and equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.
Personal Protective Equipment
Have women on your team that are in need of fall protection PPE? Equipment designed for men may not fit women properly due to differences in body size, height and composition.
PPE cannot protect a worker from hazards if it does not fit. Harnesses and other PPE are never “one size fits all,” and fall-arrest harnesses do not lend themselves well to unisex designs. Differences in the chest, hips and thighs can affect the angles that straps fit into the harnesses. An improperly sized harness can hinder a worker’s movements and affect the ability to work safely. It also can increase the worker’s risk of “suspension trauma” after a fall, a potentially fatal condition in which blood pools in the legs and reduces the amount of blood in circulation.
Keep in mind the differences between the bodies of men and women when shopping for PPE – especially fall protection. Consider investing in gender-specific fall harnesses with multiple sizes for each sex.
NIOSH Tool to Help with Falls from Ladders
Falls from ladders are an important source of preventable construction injuries. Misjudging the ladder angle is an important risk factor for a fall. If the ladder is set too steeply, it is more likely to fall back or slide away during use, and if it is set too shallow then the bottom can slide out.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a free app for smart phones aimed at improving extension ladder safety. The app has an angle of inclination indicator making it easy to set an extension ladder at the proper angle of 75.5 degrees. This allows most cell phones to provide both a visual and an audible signal when the ladder angle is correctly set.
The Ladder Safety app also includes other handy information about ladder safety, i.e., ladder selection, inspection, accessorizing, and use. Take the time to download, explore, and share with your team this easy-to-use app.