The Principles of Working at Heights

From JPCL, March 2016

By Mino Muhanad Alkhawam, Tractel Ltd.

The author describes terms, equipment and proper protocol regarding the use of fall protection systems. He also discusses the importance of putting a comprehensive fall protection program in place, including identifying risks, determining solutions and training all parties and personnel involved, while respecting standards, laws and regulations....

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Tagged categories: Access; Fall protection; Health & Safety; Ladders; Mino Muhanad Alkhawam; Personal protective equipment; Safety

Comment from Bob Dahlstrom, (4/16/2016, 3:28 PM)

Hi Mr. Alkhawam, well written. Thanks. I am new to this field and appreciate your discussion of the OSHA fall protection hierarchy starting with engineering risks out and away from the workplace. We are fond of "moving workers from harms way".

Comment from michael williams, (4/19/2016, 1:31 AM)

Hi Mr Alkhawam, I too appreciate what you have written here. We always hope we are not in the situation of putting your quality advice into practice. But it helps to have good general knowledge on such matters. I am sure your information is also appreciated by others in the H&S industry and commercial construction.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/20/2016, 8:38 AM)

Thank you for the article. I would really appreciate a followup "The Practice of Working at Heights" focused on a practical introduction (or refresher) for implementing these principles. Usage tips are also appreciated, and common pitfalls to watch out for. Here's one to get started: Select a lanyard in a contrasting color to your harness. This makes it easier and faster to untangle.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (4/20/2016, 10:51 AM)

And another in the line of Tom's thought: when using a common tie-off for several workers, have each using a different color lifeline / lanyards...easier to see if folks are getting tangled up or their lines crossed and easier to untangle if they are.

Comment from Osiris Mosley, (5/10/2016, 8:15 AM)

Being a bridge painter and knowing first hand the importance of fall protection systems I would say that this article was well executed and informative. In a perfect world if we utilized all of this information we would greatly reduce work place injuries and deaths.

Comment from B Brown, (5/19/2016, 12:31 PM)

The photo of the climber installing a ladder caught my eye. The safety training I've had required 3 point contact at all times while climbing a ladder. That means you have to have both hands free and avoids occasionally testing your fall protection equipment during the climb. A lift pulley arrangement that moves as the job progresses or attaching the next section of ladder to a belt would do the trick. The pulley and a drop weight on one end of the rope would speed the job. It would require a helper on the ground but having a stand-by for this particular job is a good idea too. Much greater productivity but the important reward is elimination of repeatedly climbing that ladder which we've just been told can be one of the most dangerous jobs at a work site. Photo does not show the conditions at grade but often the structural ladder terminates some distance above grade for vandal prevention and a temporary ladder is used for access. Best choice is a ladder designed to hook to the bottom rung on the structure but often you will find a ladder propped against the side of the structure. Is it properly secured to the structure? Is it properly set at a 4 to 1 stand-off? Is a tag line present or a track similar to the track on the ladder being installed? If all of those items were addressed how did he climb that ladder to secure it in the first place without a helper holding it in position for the very first climb? Just a few additional examples of why climbing can be dangerous work. I wonder about the anchor line in the first photo. Appears to be a sound rope for the task but the first thing I would check are the anchor points at each end. Are the attached to anchors that were clearly defined in this article?

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