Fall Hazard Control: Part 4 Protection

In our introductory post about this topic we discussed how fall hazard control – and corresponding cost control – is increasingly being considered in constructability analyses. “Constructability” is a project management technique that reviews a building project from start to finish, during the pre-construction phase.

We also introduced the three types of fall hazard control: elimination, prevention, and protection. In the previous two posts we discussed elimination and prevention. In this final post we will discuss protection.

Constructibility techniques that support fall protection systems involve, to a large degree, the designation and installation of suitable anchorage points. Personal fall arrest equipment technology is rapidly changing but will always be dependent on adequate anchorage. Roof anchorage which is used successively by construction trades and eventually by operations and maintenance personnel is now commonplace on most newly constructed roofs.

Fall protection systems are active by nature. That is, they require the active participation of the protected worker. Fall protection systems require extensive training both of users and their supervisors, and are dependent upon the availability of the proper personal fall protection equipment. They require adequate anchorage points and are most effective where standards or expectations are clear and discipline for non-compliance is certain. Success (translated as ‘no falls from heights’) is much easier to attain when fall elimination or prevention is accomplished through constructability programs.

The value realized with the widespread use of constructability techniques to accomplish fall hazard elimination and prevention is still often difficult to quantify. A glimpse at the potential savings can be obtained by reviewing worker’s compensation costs and third party liabilities costs. Injuries can amount to millions of dollars of additional costs to facilities construction programs.

Using the hierarchy of preference of controls as a guide, constructability efforts should first aim to eliminate and then prevent fall hazards. Fall protection systems should be the last line of defense. The earlier that falls are addressed in a project, the greater the ability to influence the cost. Properly implemented fall elimination and prevention engineering increases in value over the life of a facility.