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Working safely at height

Safety & Codes | December 1, 2007 | By:

Fall protection basics

Employees working on tent installations are at an increased risk of injury from height. According to OSHA, a fall hazard exists any time an employee is working at a height greater than 4 feet. Because tent companies cannot effectively eliminate the hazard, they are required to provide protection against it. Develop a solid fall protection program to protect your employees from injury while protecting your company. Put your fall protection program in writing, even if it’s just a basic plan. Be sure to set up training for all employees.

When choosing harnesses for your employees, be sure they have three key components: anchorage, body wear, and a connecting device. The anchorage is a tie-off point with a connector such as a beam anchor, D-bolt or hook anchor, and should be capable of supporting 5,000 pounds of force per worker. Body wear takes the form of a full-body harness. The connecting device is the critical link joining the harness to the anchorage, for example a shock-absorbing lanyard, a self-retracting lifeline or a rope grab. When calculating the potential fall distance, remember that shock-absorbing lanyards expand 3.5 feet when stopping a fall. Attach lanyards only to the back D-ring on the body harness, and never tie a knot in a web lanyard, as a knot reduces the lanyard’s strength by 50 percent.

SOURCE MillerGuide, published by Miller® by Sperian. For a free copy of the complete guide, go to

Time for a new ladder

Does your job-site equipment list include aluminum ladders? Maybe it’s time to rethink which ladders you bring to a tent installation. According to Don Evans, a safety and health trainer with OSHA, aluminum ladders should not be used when you’re installing anything electrical, such as hanging lighting in a tent. One bare wire or a bad connection could send your worker to the emergency room, and it only takes .5 of an amp to kill a person, Evans says. A fiberglass or wood ladder would be much safer than an aluminum one.

When a ladder is broken and needs repair, tag it, Evans recommends. Don’t just set it aside, as someone will undoubtedly come by and mistakenly use it. Also, he advises, remember the rule of three points of contact. If you’re bringing a tool up the ladder with you, use your tool belt. You will need both your hands along with whichever foot is touching to maintain the required three points of contact. And, Evans notes, don’t forget that you should never climb to the top rung of the ladder.

SOURCE Going Up: Ladders, Lifts and OSHA, presented by Don Evans at IFAI Expo 2007.

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