Falls from height are preventable, but only with the proper training. In 2019, more than 8 million people were treated in the hospital for fall-related injuries, and while a slip at home is more likely to just shatter your pride, a fall at a worksite can destroy your livelihood and even lead to death. To reduce risks and increase safety, it is imperative to properly training employees on the importance of fall protection.
What is fall protection training?
Fall protection training involves familiarizing employees with workplace hazards and preparing them for situations where they could be in danger of a fall. The failure to provide adequate fall protection training is one of the most frequently cited OSHA violations, but, teaching your employees about risks doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.
OSHA offers free fall protection training that covers the topic of how to use fall protection, avoiding hazards, using protection systems, and inspection procedures.
There are four levels of fall protection training:
- Awareness-level training - During this type of training, a specialist or skilled employee will provide a basic understanding of how to use fall protection equipment and the hazards of the workplace. This training does not go in-depth enough to appropriately educate employees on fall protection; so, treat this as more of a nice-to-know overview.
- Authorize-user training – Any employee who is at risk of a fall or will encounter workplace hazards should undergo this training. Not only do the lessons meet OSHA’s compliance guidelines, but they will also specify which dangers workers will face in their industry.
- Competent-person training – This training is best suited for supervisors or competent people who are required to have advanced knowledge of workplace dangers. The in-depth instruction covers the appropriate use of equipment, how to address fall hazards, and fall risk solutions.
- Qualified-person training – It is best practice for an employer to designate someone as a qualified person who can help solve technical issues. Trust us, you don’t want the guy who is into boating assuming he knows how to certify your anchor point. Qualified people are specifically educated to verify safety equipment and even design safety systems.
In most cases, employee's level of fall protection training depends on their job status.
How often is fall protection training required?
By now you understand your responsibility as an employer to train each employee on fall protection and inform them of fall hazards they may encounter while at work. However, OSHA leaves the timeline and implementation of the training up to the discretion of the qualified instructor. If a trained employee didn’t quite seem to grasp the initial training, OSHA recommends that the employer retrain them. Employees should also be retrained if there are changes in the workplace or fall protection systems.
Who can give fall protection training?
Fall protection training should be given by a qualified person. We’re sure all of your employees are talented, but let’s not assume the first one to volunteer will be an adequate instructor. OSHA defines qualified as “one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.” There is a lot of leeway in that definition, so it is best to choose someone that a "qualified person" designation earned from a qualified-person training program.
Does fall protection training expire?
Fall protection training may expire depending on the origin of the instruction. OSHA considers an employee to be fully trained after completing the courses one time, but as we discussed above, they recommend retraining employees that seem confused or if the workplace or equipment changes. The American Society of Safety Professionals also offers safety fall protection classes ( ANSI Z359) and recommends retraining every two years, but employers can decide if that timeframe makes sense for their workers. Lastly, many fall protection suppliers offer safety training certificates, and as an industry standard, these do usually expire after two years.
You don’t have to go at it alone
Even after completing fall protection training, employers often have questions when determining the best products for their employees. At Safety Services Inc. we are ready and available to assist your business in navigating the world of personal protective equipment - including fall protection.
Click here to talk to us about how we can help you today.