Fall Protection

Reversing the Statistics on Worker Fatalities


The 2007 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show, once again, that fatal falls are on the increase. Since the initial release of OSHA 1926.500 Fall Protection Guidelines for the Construction Industry in 1998, fatal falls have increased every year except 2003.

New Standards Pave The Way For Improved Safety

Ten years later we haven’t made any progress. The number of OSHA citations for fall protection violations and their related fines are consistently among the top three and continue to increase from year to year. Fines for fall protection violations in 2008 reached as high as $877,000.

Hopefully this will change with the release of the new ANSI Z359.1 standards that took effect in November of 2007. This standard provides the guidelines and tools to develop a complete fall protection program and increase worker safety by mandating the introduction of new snap hooks and a new style of Y-lanyards. An entire family of new of standards is now available for under $400, through the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) with membership. Visit www.asse.org for more information.

Another family of standards dealing with horizontal lifelines; engineered systems; leading edge, self-retracting lifelines and more, is slated for completion in early 2009. This next family of standards will also help educate workers with regard to the dangers of “at-foot-level” anchorages and the equipment required for those exposures. Even though we now have stronger gates on our snap hooks, which help reduce burst-out, we can still have roll-out with an auto-locking carabiner.

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