Workers need to know about construction worksite 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.
Some employers assume that they can train their employees simply by showing them a fall-protection training video or online course (like this one!). But videos, lectures, or online courses alone are not adequate because they do not provide the "hands-on" component of the training. Unfortunately, these training methods only provide instruction.
If you're an employer, it's your responsibility to make sure your employees can recognize fall hazards and that they know how to protect themselves before they're exposed to the hazards. You can't assume they know how to protect themselves from falls. If they're starting work on a new worksite, for example, they might not recognize fall hazards or know how to protect themselves unless you train them.
Workers who could be exposed to fall hazards must be trained to recognize the hazards and to know the procedures that minimize the hazards.
ANSI Z359.2, Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program, sets goals for best practices in safety training throughout the industry. It incorporates by reference ANSI Z490.1, Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health and Environmental Training. Together, Z359.2 and Z490.1 provide employers with comprehensive guidelines for fall protection training.
OSHA requires the following minimum fall-protection training:
Fall Protection -- Training Requirements in Construction 1926.503(a)(1) and (2)(ii) through (vii)
(a) Training Program.
(1) The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.
(2) The employer shall ensure that each employee has been trained, as necessary, by a competent person qualified in the following areas:
(i) The nature of fall hazards in the work area;
(ii) The correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling, and inspecting the fall protection systems to be used;
(iii) The use and operation of guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, safety net systems, warning line systems, safety monitoring systems, controlled access zones, and other protection to be used;
(iv) The role of each employee in the safety monitoring system when this system is used;
(v) The limitations on the use of mechanical equipment during the performance of roofing work on low-slope roofs;
(vi) The correct procedures for the handling and storage of equipment and materials and the erection of overhead protection; and
(vii) The standards contained in this subpart.
Who can do the training? It's important 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 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 you have reason to believe they don't recognize fall hazards, when they don't follow safe practices for using fall-protection systems, and when changes at the construction worksite or in the fall-protection systems used make their previous training obsolete.
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, it is recommended to "certify" the employee as qualified to use the fall protection equipment and that they know the procedures. Remember, to certify the employee 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. See sample certification record.
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 knowledge and skills occurs throughout the OJT process while keeping the employee safe from injury while learning. If, in using this training method, the employee is not exposed to hazards that could cause serious injury, you may be able to delete step 3. Otherwise, don't skip a step.
Step 1: Introduction-The instructor tells the trainee about the training. At this time, the instructor emphasizes the importance of the procedure to the success of the production/service goals, invites questions, and emphasizes accountability.
Step 2: Instructor show and tell- The instructor demonstrates the process. The instructor first explains and demonstrates safe work procedures associated with the task. In this step, the trainee becomes familiar with each work practice and why it is important.
Trainer: Demonstrates and Explains
Trainee: Observes and Questions
Step 3: Instructor show and ask-The trainee tells the instructor how to do the procedure, while the instructor does it. This step is actually optional. It's important to include this step if injury is possible. There is an opportunity for the instructor to discover whether there were any misunderstandings, but protects the trainee because the instructor still performs the procedure.
Trainer: Demonstrates and Questions
Trainee: Explains and Observes
Step 4: Trainee tell and show- Now it's the trainee's turn. To further protect the employee, the instructor must give permission for the trainee to perform each step. The trainee carries out the procedure, but remains protected because the trainer explains the process before actually performing the procedure.
Trainer: Gives permission, Observes and Questions
Trainee: Gets permission, Explains and then Demonstrates
Step 5. Conclusion. The instructor recognizes accomplishment, reemphasizes the importance of the procedure, and how it fits into the overall process. The instructor also reviews the natural consequences (the injury/illness) and system consequences (reward/discipline) related to performance.
Step 6. Document. The trainee certifies (1) training accomplished, (2) questions were answered, (3) opportunities provided to do procedure, (4) accountabilities understood, and (5) intent to comply. The instructor certifies that the trainee has (6) demonstrated adequate knowledge and skill to complete the procedure.
Take a look at the photo below. See if you can determine the safety hazards associated with each number in the photo. Click on the photo to get the answers.
This is a great example of fall protection training. It's primarily lecture, but the trainer knows his stuff and there is a lot of demonstration too. If you ever get the chance to have the Miller Fall Protection Roadshow in your area, be sure to watch!
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