There are two viral catch phrases that are inevitably followed by disaster. The first; and most common, “What’s the worst that could happen?”, is typically associated with brilliant moves like deciding to date your ex-wife (or husband) ten years after the divorce was settled. The results: shockingly predictable.
The next; a staple in the meme/fail video department: “Hold my beer and watch this.” (Please Note: If you work in safety and you hear this phrase in a literal context, something is definitely wrong). It generally precedes a spectacular error in judgment, immediately followed by a Schadenfreude dance party.
You kind of asked for it
When it comes to working at heights, we simply cannot afford to operate with attitudes such as those . We need to be actively engaged in visualizing the outcomes of our fall protection practices.
Have a Look - a CLOSE one
If we are examining our own behavior or observing that of another, we have to ask ourselves the basic questions outlined below. If the answer to any of these questions is anything other than an emphatic "yes", then we need to stop and formulate a better plan.
- Is the anchorage certified by a qualified person, or does it look like it can support a 5,000-pound load? 5,000 pounds is a LOT of pounds. If you can’t imagine the Family Truckster hanging from that anchorage, then you shouldn’t use it.
- Is the anchorage elevated far enough above the walking-working surface to reduce the free fall distance to six feet or less for energy-absorbing lanyards or two feet or less for self-retracting devices? Remember, the shortest free fall distance possible is ALWAYS going to produce the best outcome.
- Is there sufficient clearance to avoid contact with the next lower level? If not, we need to go back to the drawing board and start over, because this is dangerously close to "Hold my beer" territory.
- Is the proximity of the anchorage close enough to the working location (vertically speaking) to reduce or eliminate the pendulum effect or swing fall? The next lower level isn’t the only thing that’s going to hurt if it gets slammed into at 15 miles per hour.
- Are there objects in the fall path or the swing path? Those will hurt too (you, not the objects).
- Does the harness fit and is it properly adjusted? If not, that will hurt the most. Try visualizing body parts that no longer conform to original specifications, and adjust your harness accordingly.
- Are all of the elements of the fall protection system in serviceable condition? Are they fit for your purpose? A broken clock might be right twice a day, but unserviceable fall protection is ALWAYS going to give you a bad time (you could also have chosen the blind squirrel analogy, but it's a bit of a stretch).
Visualize the Outcome
When answering these questions, visualize the outcome: Imagine what that fall - if it occurs - is going to look like. If it doesn’t look good in your head, then it probably won’t look good in real life. Stop the activity, reconsider your options and seek the advice of a competent or qualified person. No one likes to be responsible for a work stoppage.
But, hey - what’s the worst that could happen?...
At Medsafe, we ARE Fall Protection experts. We've devoted a significant portion of our online presence to educating you on Fall Protection hazards and solutions. In case you missed it, here are a few previously published articles on the topic:
You should also check out our Fall Protection FAQ. It's a comprehensive database filled with the most commonly addressed topics in the Fall Protection arena. If you can't find the answer there - contact us! We'd be glad to help you find a solution.
Medsafe's primary objective is, and has always been to save lives and to keep people safe. We do that not only by offering the best safety equipment available, but by supporting you - our customer - with the training, education, and support you need to get your job done in a safe and productive manner. Of all the things we do well, taking care of our customer's needs is our number one job. Thanks for stopping by!
We've created a whole series of images designed to remind you - and everyone else - that Medsafe is here to help when safety isn't easy. They're sized to fit most popular mobile phones, tablets, and desktops, and are available individually or as a package. These aren't your father's safety reminders, and we encourage you to take a look. Let's face it - it's way past time to replace that boring landscape anyway...