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FALL PROTECTION

OSHA has released a final rule covering FALL PROTECTION in the construction industry. Does this new standard cover you as a construction worker? You bet it does! It is called Subpart M and the effective date was February 6, 1995. The procedures specified in this new standard are intended to prevent employees from failing off, onto, or through working levels, and to protect them from falling objects.

The new standard stresses three types of protection to be used for fall protection. They are GUARDRAIL SYSTEMS, SAFETY NET SYSTEMS, AND PERSONAL FALL ARREST SYSTEMS. It's up to your employer to determine which method is going to be used when an employee is on a walking or working surface, horizontal or vertical, with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level. This includes floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, etc., but not ladders, vehicles, or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their job. Leading edges, residential construction and precast concrete erection may be exceptions to the rule. In these cases the employer must have a qualified person develop a written fall protection plan for the specific area in which this type of work is being performed. The plan must be maintained and kept up to date.

As a construction worker you also need to know that the subpart does NOT apply when employees are making an inspection, investigation, or assessment of workplace conditions prior to the actual start of construction work, or after all construction has been completed.

In addition, Subpart M specifies that as of January 1, 1998, body belts are not be acceptable as part of a personal fall arrest system, (Note: the use of a body belt in a positioning device system will be acceptable.) The use of a non-locking snaphook as a part of personal fall arrest systems and positioning device systems will be prohibited. What this means to you is that non-locking snaphooks and body belts are a thing of the past in the construction industry. Workers will be using full body harnesses with locking snaphooks for fall arrest systems. .

THE NEW STANDARD REQUIRES EMPLOYERS TO TRAIN EMPLOYEES, RETRAIN THEM WHEN EQUIPMENT OR SITE CHANGES OCCUR, AND CERTIFY AND DATE THE TRAINING.

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