It is a sad story.
The 42-year old husband and father of three was painting the two story entryway to his home. His wife and daughter were gone for the weekend and his two sons were outside in the yard. In fact, the husband planned the project when he knew that his wife would be away from home. The ladder placement was precarious and the job really should not have taken too long. It was such a small job, in fact, that the husband refused to hire anyone to come in and finish the project.
All was going as planned. Right up until the time when it was not. It happened quickly. The painting husband leaned just a little too far to the right, the ladder slipped, and the awkward pose on the ladder created a head over heals fall that was scary and nearly fatal. Landing on his head with the ladder tipping over and crashing through the front window. The noise and the commotion luckily alerted the boys to the problem. Within minutes the rescue squad arrived and the husband was getting the critical care that he needed.
Months later, the husband is back at work. Miraculously, he has few physical indications of the fall. His mental state, however, is another story. He is able to work and drive. He is able to parent and watch his children’s activities. What has changed, however, is his memory. After a lot of brain swelling and patiently waiting and following the expert medical advice, some things simply are different. A man who used to like to hunt and fish no longer has any interest in those activities. A man who has always done everything around the house himself now has no interest in even mowing the yard at the end of a day at work. His family, of course is thankful that he is still alive and that he is still able to work.
Ironically enough, this accident would have never occurred at work. The close attention to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines would have never allowed a single person to paint on a ladder. According to OSHA fall protection training and the guidelines for safe ladder and scaffolding use.
OSHA Fall Protection Training Enables Employers to Provide Safe Work Environments for Their Employees
In its most basic form, OSHA fall protection training program uses a three step process to prevent dangerous falls and save lives: plan, provide, and train. After a close inspection of an entire office or work site, a plan is created and the proper materials are provided. And only then does the OSHA fall protection training begins. Carefully implemented and taught, lifting gear, lifting slings, and other lifting products can be safely used without fear of fall or injury.
Consider some of the following OSHA guidelines that will keep workers safe from falling whether they are walking through an office or repairing or replacing high position lights and other materials:
- To protect workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for any job that is higher than six feet off the ground. This includes the correct kind of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.
- Not only does OSHA require that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, but it also has requirements for other industries, including five feet in shipyards; six feet in the construction industry; and eight feet in longshoring operations.
- Anchorage must support 5,000 pounds for a single tie-off point for a single individual.
- Fall arrest by definition falls into two major types: general fall arrest, like nets; and personal fall arrest, like lifelines.
- Without the combination of fall arrest and safety equipment, a person can fall up to seven feet in a short two-thirds of a second.
- OSHA guidelines have helped decrease worker injuries and illnesses. The numbers decreased from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in the year 1972 to 3.4 per 100 workers in 2011.
A company’s attention to details about safety and precaution can create a work environment that protects workers while they are on the job. And while it may be impossible to enforce these guidelines in private homes, the government requires that work places do. Proper implementation is essential.
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