Canadian Occupational Safety

September/October 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 19 of 51

F E A T U R E 20 elevation of the structure above the working surface. The higher the elevation of the anchorage, the shorter the potential there is for freefall distance or an unrestricted fall distance, says Henn. Cole says an anchorage could be a component bolted to the floor, ceiling or a structural beam. An anchorage point needs to be strong, proximate to the working location and elevated at least a couple of feet above the user's dorsal ring on their full-body harness. Henn says the ideal minimum anchorage height is somewhere in the vicinity of seven and a half feet, although there are different strength requirements based upon the type of work that is being performed. "The elevation of the anchorage above the walking working surface is critical to the outcome of any fall arrest scenario. It improves every measurable metric. The sooner I can rescue or fall, the less risk there is that that person is going to be injured or killed," he says. Cole says the user rating should be taken into account as well as how heavy the person is that is wearing the equipment. The substrate material to which the anchor connects comes into play. It could be wood, metal decking or even concrete. Typically, these should be listed in the manufacturer instructions for that anchor. She says that you would also have a qualified person or an engineer examine the system on top of the manufacturer's instructions, which are based on testing the company does and current legislation. There is also a wide variety of products or solutions referred to as "anchorage connectors." These will function as the connector between the anchorage and the personal fall protection or fall arrest system. This equipment is all considered as active fall protection. Cole says to remember it as "ABC": anchorage, body harness and connective device. v. Dropped object prevention While ABC is very important, Cole says there is another component that is not receiving as much light as it should — although it is starting to pick up steam. "I call that component the 'D component,' which is dropped object prevention," she says. Indeed, if someone is doing maintenance or repairs or doing construction on a new build, the worker may have tools. "You have to think about what's beneath you, what happens if that worker drops a wrench or a hammer. If you drop that at six foot or above height, serious injury or even a fatality could occur." Cole says that drop object prevention could be a tool tethering system, which would adhere to the worker's body so that, if their hand lets go, the tool will not fall. What are the dangers of not using, or using ill-fitting fall protection? In fall-related accidents, most injuries due to ill-fitting or improper protection are to the appendages (legs, arms) as well as the back, says Cole. She says that, on top of injury and potential death, companies also face government fines. This is a huge financial impact for the company. "The risk of working without some kind of fall protection is, I think, relatively plain to see," says Henn. "If we fall at considerable distance, we're going to sustain at the very minimum some kind of an injury, whether it be broken bones, soft tissue damage, organ damage, concussion, you name it. There's just a tremendous amount of risk. You know, gravity is always going to win." "I actually find that most accidents "Make sure you're working safely, and make sure your equipment is up to date and up to standard… It's really just about making sure that people are getting back home." Erica Cole, product manager at Pure Safety Group wind or energy work, there will be different components or different materials of hardware used. iii. Connecting device The next element is a connecting device or connecting subsystem. This could be in the form of a lanyard or lifeline. This is the tether that will attach to the user's full-body harness. A lanyard is a piece of webbing that may have a shock absorber on it, and it will connect your anchorage to your body harness. In essence, it's a piece of equipment that goes between two other pieces of fall protection equipment. This device connects to an integral part of active fall protection: the anchorage point. iv. Anchorage The anchorage is a structural element, says Henn. It could be the structure being worked on or some adjacent structure or element that is going to be strong enough to restrict movement or arrest the fall. The other essential attribute to look out for in an anchorage structure is the THE FALL PROTECTION ALPHABET A B C D Anchorage: a structural element — preferably elevated — which is the anchorage point. Body harness: an envelope that captures or contains the body of the worker Connective device: a tether that connects the harness to the anchorage point Dropped object prevention

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