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In the construction industry falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. Each year, on average, between 150 and 200 workers are killed and more than 100,000 are injured because of falls at construction sites.

It happened like this

Leroy needed to work off the scaffold at 30 feet. At the 30-foot level there weren’t any guardrails on the scaffold. That meant he needed to wear a fall protection harness attached to a horizontal lifeline or a suitable anchorage point.

Leroy didn’t have his fall protection harness along. His coworker, Salvador, had his fall protection harness along.

“Leroy, you can use my fall protection harness if you want,” said Salvador.

“No offense, but I think yours would be too big for me. I’m not sure I could adjust it to fit. I can get a body belt from Carl to wear. My problem is where am I going to tie-off when I get up there?” Leroy said.

“We could install a horizontal lifeline for you to tie-off to. There are several anchorage points we could attach it to. You could also attach your lanyard to the anchorage points themselves,” said Salvador.

“The horizontal lifeline would work better for me. How long will it take to have it installed?” said Leroy.

“At least 24 hours,” said Salvador.

“That’s too long. I think I’m just going to tie-off the lanyard to the “I” beam. I’ll just wrap it around the beam,” said Leroy.

“Sounds good to me, let’s get started,” said Salvador.

What are the issues?

  • Fall protection needed while working on the scaffold.
  • No tie-off points.
  • Body belt use in place of harness.

What did Leroy do right?

  • Understood the importance of a proper harness fit and realized that Salvador’s harness may be too big.
  • Understood the importance of connecting the equipment and tried to figure out a way to tie-off while working from the scaffold.

What did Leroy do wrong?

  • Was going to wear a body belt rather than a fall protection harness.
  • Was going to wrap his fall protection lanyard around the “I” beam.

What did Salvador do wrong?

  • Didn’t tell Leroy that a body belt can’t be used instead of a fall protection harness.
  • Didn’t tell Leroy that he shouldn’t wrap his fall protection lanyard around the “I” beam.

What do you think should happen next?

  • Leroy should not use the body belt instead of the harness.
  • Leroy should not wrap his fall protection lanyard around the “I” beam.
  • Leroy and Salvador should be given additional training on fall hazards, fall protection measures, and personal fall arrest systems.

Key to remember

The proper understanding and use of fall protection are critical in preventing injuries and worse when performing construction tasks.