Falls seem to be an obvious hazard. Yet 691 U.S. workers were killed on the job by falls in 2003. What can I do to convince my workers to use fall protection?


When safety directors choose comfortable fall protection equipment, we find compliance is much easier. We constantly update our harnesses with more features and more comfort in mind so that workers will wear fall protection gear.

As an example, our field reps find that workers will more readily wear harnesses that include webbing that doesn’t bind or pinch with movement, and they will wear them consistently.

In addition, we find that a lack of instructions — in the appropriate language — is a key reason equipment is not used at all, or misused.

Ron Cox, V.P. Global Strategic Marketing, Fall Protection, Bacou-Dalloz

One might be inclined to simply remind employees that fall protection is mandatory (OSHA standards), but on a more realistic and personal side, it is always more effective to get the employees involved in the fall protection implementation process themselves.

No one is in a better position than employees to know when fall protection is needed and what type of fall protection should be used. When the actual end-user is involved, the proper selection, use, maintenance and performance of the system is achieved.

The “Buy-In” by employees makes the entire program realistic, easier to enforce and most importantly, more effective. The result is that workers can go home to their families at the end of the day.

Craig Firl, Product Marketing Manager, Hardgoods, DBI/SALA and Protecta

The first line of defense for any person is knowledge. The worker must understand that falls from heights are the number one killers in construction and are also the main cause of serious injuries in the industrial segment as well.

We must begin by dismissing the myth that falls from a height of ten feet or less will not cause injury. The fact of the matter is that a fall from any height could cause a serous injury or even death.

Once the worker understands that falls from any height are serious, we can then provide training for the worker on how a fall protection system can be implemented in their everyday routine and how, if used properly, it will not impede the way they are performing their tasks.

Remember that workers are trained to perform their trade (such as welding) and the fall protection should be a part of their everyday routine — but must be considered secondary.

Once the fall protection system becomes the norm for the worker and does not impede their ability to work as they did previously, then and only then will fall protection be consistently used to protect the workers from serious injuries at heights.

Gabriele Fusco, P.Eng., Fall Protection Product Manager, North Safety Products