Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in work related accidents. Persons working at height must be protected against falls. Ideally, all fall hazards should be engineered out of the workplace, but that is not always possible. When a fall hazard exists, fall protection equipment is necessary to protect the worker at height by incorporating a personal fall arrest system, or PFAS. Each PFAS must contain at least four components:
- Full Body Harness
- Energy Absorbing Device
- Anchorage Connector
Each fall hazard identified at a job site could present unique challenges that have to be accounted for when assembling a PFAS. One of the first things to determine when evaluating a fall hazard is fall clearance. Fall clearance can be calculated by adding values for the following:
- Height of the worker
- Initial length of energy absorbing device
- Deployment distance of energy absorbing device
- Harness effect (distance that the dorsal d-ring will slide up during a fall arrest)
- Safety factor
Once an appropriate PFAS has been assembled to address a particular fall hazard, the PFAS must be inspected and maintained. Inspection will always be the first responsibility for the person donning the equipment. Always look at the following:
- Stitches – make sure that stitches are intact and not fraying and/or breaking
- Webbing – look for abrasion, cuts, and excessive wear, especially if the webbing has been in contact with a rough or sharp edge
- Hardware – make certain that all hardware is functioning properly. This includes all hooks, carabiners, d-rings, and connection configurations including quick connects, mating buckles, and tongue buckles
- Rope – look for fraying, cuts, picks, and other deformities that will hinder the rope from being used safely and properly
- Cable – inspect cable for cut wires, corrosion, and kinks.
Ultimately, the worker that puts on the equipment is responsible for daily inspections. Additionally, all PFAS equipment is to be inspected at least once every 6 months by the competent person on a job site. If there is ever a question about the integrity of the PFAS equipment, contact Elk River for guidance or destroy the equipment and purchase new equipment.
Maintaining components of a PFAS is dependent upon the care that is given to the equipment by the user. Keeping the equipment as clean and free from sunlight, dirt, grease, oils, etc. as possible is vital to the life of the equipment. Once the work day is complete, perform a quick inspection and store the equipment in a dry environment preferably away from the sunlight and off of the floor.
All Elk River equipment meets or exceeds the current and applicable OSHA regulations as well as the ANSI and CSA standards.