Understanding Fall Hazards in Industrial Demolition

CraneAccording to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls are a quite common cause of workplace injuries and fatalities. OSHA requires fall protection for any work area over 4 feet in general industry, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in construction and 8 feet in longshoring operations. OSHA codes also require fall protection when workers are situated above dangerous machinery, regardless of height.

OSHA-approved fall protection for industrial demolition and other elevated operations includes:

  • Installation of hand rails, guard rails and stair rails.
  • Placement of toe-boards or floor board covers over holes into which employees could accidentally walk.
  • Clean, dry floor conditions so as to minimize slipping hazards.
  • Harness lines and safety nets for certain industries and situations.

Every year, OSHA focuses on different aspects of occupational hazards to inform employers about unconsidered dangers – and ultimately to protect workers. In late 2012, OSHA stated a current focus on the danger of fall hazards, such as unsecured ladders.

OSHA’s representatives emphasize that ladders should be able to extend at least three feet beyond their resting surface to make it easier for workers to mount and dismount. Ladders should also have sturdy feet and a secure attachment to the supporting structure. Finally, OSHA stresses that ladders must have a safe “1-to-4” angle, meaning the height can’t be more than four times larger than the space between the ladder’s base and the supporting surface against which the ladder rests. Otherwise, the ladder would be unstable and prone to keeling over. These guidelines apply to anyone who works at a height, including industrial demolition contractors.

Oregon’s tree trimmers also received new safety recommendations from OSHA. When trimming within 15 feet of a byway, trimmers must have proper traffic controls in place. Hearing protection and awareness of items falling from above were other areas of OSHA’s focus for tree trimming safety.

Here at Elder Demolition, we are committed to safety. One of our safety programs includes annual training in fall protection for all of our industrial demolition contractors, including laborers, operators and foremen. For safety-conscientious industrial demolition contractors, Oregon, California and Washington project managers need look no further.

[Photo by: James Cridland, via CC License]

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