Year after consecutive year we see the leading cause of workplace death being falls. Falling from ladders, structures, access points, roof edges. The number has consistently led the pack in both deaths and OSHA violations. But what is the cause of this epidemic and why hasn't it been propery eliminated?
North American Clean Energy indicates that a large reason for this is the improper approach to training.
Training and education in vertical markets need to teach more than the first principles of fall protection. Anytime a technician is expected to climb for a living they should first be trained in the discipline of “prevention.” Fall Prevention, or “100% Fall Prevention,” is the key to reducing injury and death in these markets. Safety professionals and work-at-height experts are forever preaching the hierarchy of risk, while working feverishly to eliminate hazards. Often times, professionals dive deep into the weeds by working with engineers and manufacturers to come up with ways to eliminate a hazard, but in doing so risk losing sight of the immediate exposures the workforce faces everyday.
Training organizations with mature work-at-height programs offer solutions to reduce risk of the immediate exposures. Global Wind Organization (GWO) Basic Safety Training Standard is a globally recognized, almost harmonized, approach to standardize a culture of prevention. It consists of five modules, including:
- First Aid [Emphasis on Trauma Response Skills];
- Fire Prevention and Awareness;
- Manual Material Handling [Ergonomics for Wind Techs]; and
- Offshore [Marine Vessel Transit/Transfer]. The fifth [Offshore] is an option that most land-based turbine owners and service providers can opt out of.
In general, the work-at-heights segment’s intention is to provide heightened focus on the prevention of falls through work practice controls, techniques, and equipment. Essentially, this upgrade in equipment, combined with the further development of knowledge and skills, allows for a technician to make decisions on how best to prevent a fall from occurring. In addition, this training provides for more skill evolutions to be performed with the emergency rescue and evacuation equipment than legacy training has historically allotted for.
Currently, there are only a handful of facilities certified to offer this standardized GWO curriculum in training, but those who are, are seeing an increase in reoccurring training from companies and customers who have experienced the many benefits of training to prevent falls.
You can view their full piece here
Training needs to maintain the correct approach, the correct focus, and be repeated regularly. At the end of the day, a culture of workplace safety will be more effective than a slapped on cover up to avoid a fine, or a half-hearted attempt.