Workers need to know about workplace hazards to which they may be exposed, how to recognize the hazards, and how to minimize their exposure. The best way for them to learn is through training. Training ensures that they know about the hazards and can demonstrate how to protect themselves from falling.
Workers who could be exposed to fall hazards must be trained to recognize the hazards and to know the procedures that minimize the hazards. All employees must prove they understand and can properly use, care for, and detect defects in fall protection equipment. The only way to do that is to demonstrate adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to a competent person.
If you're an employer, you're responsible for ensuring that your employees can recognize fall hazards and they know how to protect themselves before they're exposed to the hazards. When the hazards to which employees are exposed change, you can't assume they know how to protect themselves from falls. If they're starting work on a new site, for example, they might not recognize fall hazards or know how to protect themselves unless you train them.
Don't assume an OSHA 10- or 30-Hour training card somehow magically qualifies an employee to do anything, especially to work at elevation or train fall protection: OSHA will tell you it doesn't. Make sure you require each new employee to prove they can use fall protection correctly by demonstrating adequate knowledge and skills before allowing them to work above heights requiring fall protection.
Employers may assume that they can complete fall protection training simply by providing a classroom lecture, showing a video, or having employees complete an online course. However, lectures, videos, or online training do not completely satisfy OSHA requirements for employers to prove their employees have adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities (SKAs) to use fall protection equipment. Although employers may satisfy the how-to instructional component, they cannot prove adequate knowledge and skills unless they provide employees an opportunity to practice hands-on to develop the necessary skills and abilities.
Blended learning is an effective educational strategy for conducting fall protection training that helps employers meet OSHA requirements and ensures employees gain adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities. We call it "blended learning" because it blends multiple educational strategies to provide both the how-to and hands-on components through instruction, practice, and performance evaluation.
For instance, using the blended learning strategy, you might follow these steps:
It's important that the trainer knows the hazards at the work site, knows how to eliminate or control the hazards, and knows how to teach workers to protect themselves. That's why the trainer must be a competent person. Remember: A competent person is one who can identify work site hazards and who has management authority to control them.
The fall protection trainer must know and be able to explain the following:
Employees must be trained before they begin tasks that could expose them to fall hazards or before they use fall-protection systems. They must be retrained when:
The employer must keep a written record (certification) of each employee's fall-protection training. As a minimum, you need to include the employee's name, the training date, and the trainer's signature.
Since this training involves procedures and practices used to prevent serious injury or death, we recommend you "certify" the employee as qualified to use the fall protection equipment and they know procedures.
Remember, to be certified as qualified, the employee must prove to the trainer or competent person they have adequate knowledge and skills to perform the procedure or practice.
A formal certification record should be developed to document any training that requires employees to know and use procedures and practices for dangerous tasks.
The "show and tell" model for on-the-job training (OJT) has been, and is still, the best method for training specific fall-protection safety procedures. Measurement of knowledge, skills, and abilities occurs throughout the OJT process while keeping the employee safe from injury while learning.
Pipefitter Falls from Ladder
A pipefitter was going to get a measurement at the top of a 25-foot fiberglass tank. With the help of a co-worker, he placed a ladder against the tank and tied off the bottom to pipes at the base of the tank. He climbed the ladder, stood on the top rungs, and took the measurement. While he was descending, the ladder slipped against the slick fiberglass surface and twisted. The pipefitter lost his balance and fell 18 feet to the concrete floor. He died of massive head injuries.
Findings: The pipefitter had been on the job only four days and had no training in using ladders safely. Also, the ladder was defective and had not been tagged or removed from service; the side rails were twisted and dented, the rungs damaged, and the halyard was missing.
This California Public Health video explains the events that led to a solar installer dying after he fell from an apartment building roof. Photographs from the fatality investigation are supplemented with scenes re-created by solar workers. Fall prevention recommendations are highlighted. Solar installation and construction companies are encouraged to include this video as part of a comprehensive safety training program (English, 4.5 minutes).