Different Types Of Fall Prevention Devices
To avoid accidents and injuries when working at elevated construction sites, safety should be your top priority. Statistics reveal that 11% of workplace fatalities are due to falls from heights, and hundreds of workers suffer severe injuries every year due to such incidents.
You can minimise these risks by taking precautionary measures, such as using fall-prevention devices. This article will discuss everything you need to know about the different types of equipment and accessories available to help your workers stay safe and secure while working at heights.
What Is A Fall Prevention Device?
A device fall protection is any safety equipment or system designed to reduce the risk of falls from heights while working on scaffolds. It’s meant to protect workers and materials during construction, maintenance, or repair activities.
There are several primary devices that can be used for fall protection, including guardrails, toeboards, safety netting, harnesses and lanyards, and scaffolding enclosures. In the following sections, we will take a closer look at each of these devices and discuss how they can be used to prevent falls and protect workers.
- Guardrails These are horizontal barriers installed along the edges of scaffolding platforms. Guardrails consist of a top rail, an intermediate rail, and a toeboard. These features work together to prevent accidental falls off the scaffold. In Australia, guardrails are required by law and must meet the standards laid out in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Toeboards are horizontal barriers attached to the edges of a scaffold platform. They’re meant to prevent tools, equipment, or materials from falling off the edge. It’s an important safety measure that helps protect workers and anyone else who might be standing near the scaffold.
Toeboards are to be used with other fall protection measures, such as guardrails and personal fall arrest systems. These safety devices work together to provide a comprehensive safety system that minimises the risks of scaffolding.
- Safety Netting
Safety netting is a mesh-like material installed beneath the scaffolding to catch workers in case of a fall. It’s made of nylon or polypropylene and is installed below the scaffold at a distance that will prevent a worker from hitting the ground.
Like the other fall prevention devices mentioned earlier, the law requires all scaffolding setups to have safety netting. It’s meant to function as a last resort when other measures fail or aren’t feasible. Also, the nets must be positioned as close as possible to the working surface to minimise the distance a worker or object may fall.
Safety netting should be installed and maintained by a competent scaffolder. This way, they can inspect the netting for any defects and ensure that its capable of providing an additional layer of safety to workers.
- Scaffolding Enclosures In certain situations, scaffolding may be enclosed with a material such as mesh or solid sheeting. This provides protection against falling objects and prevents unauthorised access to the scaffold.
- Personal Fall Arrest Systems
Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) are comprised of a full-body harness, an anchor point, and a lanyard or lifeline. One end of the lanyard is connected to the anchor point, while the other end is attached to the harness, which is worn by the worker. If the worker falls, the lanyard will engage and stop the fall before the worker hits the ground.
It’s worth noting that PFAS should only be used by workers who have been trained on its use and who are competent enough to do so. As with other aspects of scaffolding, an expert is needed to do the installation for a safer experience. But it’s good practice for any worker to be familiar with the setup process.
The steps for setting up a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) in scaffolding are as follows:
- Choose the appropriate equipment for the job and ensure that they meet the relevant safety standards.
- Identify the anchor point, a secure location to which the lanyard will be attached. It should be capable of supporting the worker’s weight in the event of a fall. It should also be positioned above the worker to minimise the fall distance.
- Put on the harness correctly, with the leg and armholes adequately lined up. Ensure that the straps are in place and that everything is secure. None of the straps behind the worker should be twisted. If they are, you should take off the harness and put it back on the proper way.
- Attach the lanyard to the D-ring on the back of the harness and attach the other end to the anchor point.
- Adjust the lanyard to ensure that there is no slack, but make sure it’s not so tight that it restricts movement. The lanyard should be long enough to allow the worker to move freely but short enough to prevent a fall.
Before using a personal fall arrest system, inspect it for signs of wear or damage. Replace the equipment immediately if you find any defects.
- Temporary Work Platforms
Temporary work platforms are essential in providing a stable and secure work surface for working at heights. These platforms are commonly used in construction, maintenance, and repair work. Although they aren’t necessarily fall prevention devices, how you install and maintain them plays a vital role in the safety of the workers.
They come in various types, including scaffolds, aerial lifts, and scissor lifts. Scaffolds are platforms supported by a framework of poles and braces. Trained and competent personnel are the only ones authorised by law to erect, use, and dismantle scaffolds. But employers are still responsible for ensuring their equipment meets the required standards before allowing workers access to these. If you don’t have the necessary equipment, you can consider scaffold hire services to ensure that you have safe and reliable platforms for your workers to use.
Aerial lifts and scissor lifts are also common in construction and maintenance work. They’re powered access equipment that lift workers and their tools to elevated work areas.
Aerial lifts can reach high places and are ideal for outdoor work, while scissor lifts are more compact and easier to manoeuvre in tight spaces. Both types of lifts have safety features that can help ensure the security of the workers.
Working at heights can be dangerous, but with the proper safety measures in place, you can prevent accidents and injuries. Provide your workers with the necessary fall prevention devices and training is crucial to ensure their safety.
Guardrails, toeboards, safety netting, and scaffolding enclosures are just a few of the many fall prevention devices available to help keep workers safe. By implementing these devices and ensuring that the workers wear personal fall arrest systems before accessing the scaffolding, you can significantly reduce the risk of falls and protect your workers from harm. Remember, safety should always be the top priority on any construction site, and by following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can help ensure a safe and secure working environment for everyone involved.