Industrial settings that use machines and require machine maintenance often face unique challenges in protecting their workers while performing routine tasks. The National Safety Council has identified the top causes of injuries in the private manufacturing industry as contact with objects and equipment, overexertion and other bodily reactions, and falls, slips, and trips.
Falls from height are among the highest contributors to workplace injuries and unfortunately deaths. Although a 4-foot fall may seem insignificant to some, it’s a common elevation in industrial environments that poses a significant fall risk to workers. Even if the fall doesn’t result in tragic loss of life, injuries can be life-changing and lead to distributions to business. According to 2020 records in the private manufacturing industry, there were 373,300 cases of nonfatal injuries and out of these cases, 135,900 required days away from work, 108,800 required job transfers or restrictions, and 128,700 were other cases.
ANSI’s Hierarchy of Fall Protection is a guide to use when determining how to address any fall risks and hazards that have been identified during a risk assessment. From order to most desirable to least is: Hazard Elimination, Passive Fall Protection, Fall Restraint, Fall Arrest, and Administrative Controls. Generally, the five different methods of can be thought of as ways to either Avoid, Prevent, or Minimize the hazard.
Avoid – Avoid work at height if you can. For example, bring the task at hand to ground level.
Prevent – If work at height can’t be avoided then put measures in place to prevent a fall from occurring and for example, placing guardrails and other means to stop a person from falling.
Minimize – If work at height can’t be avoided, and measures to prevent a fall from occurring can’t be put in place, then systems must be adopted to minimize the risks to personnel should a fall occur. For example, the use of a restraint system that prevents someone from getting to this position.
Within manufacturing environments, one of the safest forms of fall protection is a platform because they do not require specialized training to use, and teams are better able to work on tasks jointly improving the safety and quality of the work being performed. There are two main applications of platforms, they either provide access or a stable surface to conduct maintenance.
Maintenance equipment for large factory machinery, such as injection molders, automotive manufacturing equipment, ovens, and metalworking equipment, often goes unnoticed until the equipment is already installed and requires servicing. In such cases, platform engineers design systems that can integrate with existing equipment and structures and provide personnel with safe and compliant access. A well-designed access platform solution will improve safety and productivity by enabling work in tight spaces and in hazardous conditions.
Large mobile work stands to assist workers in performing routine and frequent maintenance or assembly tasks. Typically, they consist of a single deck with either a staircase or a ladder and can be effortlessly moved to different locations. The most effective maintenance platforms are those that have the flexibility, in terms of both height adjustability and the configuration of railings and stairs/ladders, to be used for various access requirements. Maintenance stands can be constructed for indoor or outdoor use, and must provide sufficient fall protection, both when used against the equipment being worked on and as a stand-alone platform.
General Requirements for Fall Protection
As a site manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that all employees work in a safe environment. Despite many employees working in hazardous conditions, implementing preventive measures can enhance the safety of your team and improve their overall performance. Anchor safety systems are a viable option for manufacturers to safeguard their employees against falls. In general industry, employers must provide fall protection for workers at heights greater than 4 feet as required by OSHA. The main requirements for employers are these…
1) Create a work area that is free of known dangers.
2) Train employees on how to protect themselves from falls and accidents.
3) Keep floors clean and dry as much as possible for maximum floor space.
4) Provide protective equipment at no cost to workers
Finding a Partner
Ensuring a secure working environment for workers and maintenance staff in the industrial sector demands an all-encompassing fall prevention strategy. This includes a suitable combination of fall protection equipment, personnel training, and collaboration with a fall protection company that understands the specific nature of your facility’s access points and potential fall hazards. The FlexDecks team has been safeguarding work at height for industrial facilities for over three decades. Their maintenance stands and platforms offer stability, flexibility, and safety, that meet the highest OSHA/ANSI standards, FlexDecks has got you covered. Let’s get started today!