What is a fall hazard zone?

The certain area on your jobsite where you could lose your balance or bodily support, resulting in a fall, is a fall hazard zone. Any walking or working surface that is four feet or more in height can pose a fall risk. Falls are typically caused by the provision of inappropriate safety equipment and its incorrect usage, the failure to follow safety regulations, and careless behaviour toward safety measures during task execution. The company’s annual safety training and induction programme must include fall hazards and fall protection.

Periodic safety meetings is also a good idea to keep workers aware of fall hazards and the necessity of fall protection, which can help them follow OSHA norms and laws. It is extremely important to analyse the fall hazards thoroughly at the worksite in order to arrange appropriate fall protection for workers before starting work activities. Hierarchy of control must be followed as below before planning work activities:

  • Attempt to organise tasks that eliminate the need for working at heights by re-engineering the place or establishing a controlled access zone.
  • Provide first-line defence systems such as guardrails, fences, or barricades on platforms, as well as steps to prevent falls.
  • Use of a personal fall restraint with a fixed length lanyard that prevents the worker from entering the fall hazard area. However, in some circumstances, it may limit worker mobility.

Despite all precautionary measures, falls do occur, and when they do, the first priority should be to control the fall for worker safety. A personal fall arrest system (PFAS) must be utilised when tasks involve extensive worker mobility or place them near the edge of the fall hazard. Edge of the fall hazard might be sharp, leading, or both, and it poses a safety risk. Sharp edges can harm the lifeline and cause fatalities; therefore it’s vital to choose fall protection equipment that’s appropriate for the task and working environment.

Another crucial consideration when dealing with leading edges is to determine the fall clearance before selecting worker safety equipment to avoid emergency scenarios. Some jobs, such as masonry and bricklaying, require workers to be on a leading edge while completing their tasks; however, due to the nature of the job, the leading edge shifts as the task progresses, and there is often no spot to place the anchor point. Due to the higher level of danger posed to workers, a controlled access zone is most commonly employed for such jobs, which also helps keep unauthorised workers out. For controlled access zones OSHA requires:

  • To clearly indicate the controlled access zone with tape, wire, or rope and must be installed at a distance of not less than 6 feet nor more than 25 feet from the exposed or leading edge.
  • All workers and supervisors must comply with OSHA’s fall protection regulations.
  • Workers must be cautious to implement safe measures and keep a look out for potential risks in controlled access zones.

All employees must be sufficiently trained in fall protection and be able to identify potential fall hazards on a job site, as well as know the required emergency response procedure.

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