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Fall Protection Near Exposed Edges

Workers who use personal fall arrest systems are at risk of fatal falls due to their fall protection lines being cut by exposed edges. A new hazard alert from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries states that open edges, such as roofs, desks, platforms, or the edge of a floor creates a condition in which a lifeline can contact an edge and can be severed in the event of a fall. If you or someone you know was injured in a fall due to exposed edges, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation.

Self-Retracting Lifelines Present a Huge Risk

Two workers in Washington fell to their death as a result of their self-retracting lifelines (SRL) being severed in two separate fall incidents. The first took place when it contacted the edge of formwork that was made of steel plates. The second incident occurred when a nylon webbing lifeline was severed after contacting sharp, abrasive edges that were along a beveled wall.

An investigation showed that damage to the lifelines occurred during the fall and not before. Manufacturers warned about using SRLs around edges that could potentially damage the lifeline or prevent it from doing what it was made to do, which is effectively arrest the fall.

Recommended Safety Measures

SRL and non-SRL Fall-Arrest Mechanisms present the same risks and include cable, webbing, lanyard, and rope. By law, employers are responsible for addressing these risks, and should adhere to the following safety practices:

  • Identify and document any potential hazardous edges during jobsite inspections.
  • When possible, avoid working in areas where lifelines could contact potentially hazardous edges in the event of a fall.
  • Ensure employees remain within a safe working distance from the overhead anchor point.
  • Routinely inspect lifelines and other fall protection equipment before using it.
  • Cover edges with protective material. This will protect lifelines against cuts or abrasions.
  • Anchor lifelines vertically overhead when possible. This will prevent the lifeline from contacting an edge and to minimize swing falls that can cut lifelines.
  • Instruct crews on the use and limitations of the fall protection equipment provided, where potentially hazardous edges would be, and why lifelines need to be protected when working around exposed edges and how to protect them.
  • Provide lifelines designed specifically for the application and follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Represent Employees Injured on the Job

If you or someone you know was injured as a result of a workplace accident, a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer at McCann & Wall, LLC can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-888-1221. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including Dover, Newark, and Middletown.

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