Fall protection training is education provided to employees who work in areas or industries where they could be exposed to fall hazards. In every industry there is a risk that a fall or trip could occur. An employee working in a corporate environment, for instance, could slip down a flight of stairs or slide across coffee spilled on the floor. These workplace falls can leave workers with serious lingering injuries and increase workers’ compensation and civil liability costs. By educating employees on the potential dangers of their workplace and providing relevant safety information, fall protection training seeks to eliminate the risky behaviors and lack of knowledge that can affect workplace safety.
Tumbles can occur on flat surfaces or may be the result of a fall from a higher level to a lower level. Many falls that occur on the same level take place in the service and retail industries. On the other hand, the majority of severe injuries and accidental deaths are associated with falls from heights, those most likely to occur in the construction industry. To protect workers from falls, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the U.S. issues standards and regulations for fall protection training and mandates the use of fall protection when working at heights of at least 6 feet (1.8 m).
A major objective of fall safety teaching is to explain to employees why fall protection is necessary. In the roofing industry, for instance, a sudden loss of balance or fall through a roof skylight can be serious, even if the fall was not from a high elevation. In fact, a fall from just a few feet in height could prove to be fatal. In many of the situations where workplace fatalities have occurred, fall protection training that included understanding of properly using fall protection equipment could have made the difference in saving a life.
As more falls and serious injuries occur in the construction industry, fall protection training for this industry emphasize identifying potential fall hazards and the importance of proper equipment. Guardrails or protective railings, for instance, are commonly used to block edges on construction sites so that even if an employee falls, he or she will not be able to free fall down to a lower level. Various types of full body harnesses are also used to prevent getting too close to an edge or to catch the worker if she does fall. For this equipment to be used effectively, however, employees need to know how to put it on and understand in what situations the equipment is required to be worn.
For employees who work at a height, fall protection training is required to be completed by a knowledgeable professional. Employee certification showing that this training has been completed and that the worker had been educated on all equipment used on the job is required. Online training courses, videos, and on-site comprehensive training courses are all options that may help employers carry out this training and comply with required regulations.