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Construction Safety in Perspective: Q+A with Diversified Fall Protection

By Kevin Kelpe and Steve Spirko, Contributors

Reducing fall-related injuries requires a united effort that places awareness and education at its core.

Tell us about Diversified Fall Protection – your focus, solutions, and how you can help companies keep workers safe. (Kelpe)

Over the last several years, our business has grown immensely. We now have five regional offices across the country that can deliver any fall protection solution at any level of service. Our niche is comprehensive, turnkey solutions for our customers—for maximum compliance and worker safety. This means we design, engineer, and, in many cases, manufacture products, in addition to installing and servicing them.

Our Services division offers hazard assessment, training, certification, re-certification, and more. Our goal is always to be a long-term partner in safety. To do that, we know we need a national presence with broad expertise and a deep bench—so that’s what we’ve built.

Explain how you conduct fall hazard assessments. (Spirko)

OSHA specifies that it is the employer’s responsibility to identify and then eliminate or mitigate fall hazards in the workplace. Therefore, the best place to start fulfilling this requirement is to conduct a fall hazard assessment in your workplace.

At Diversified Fall Protection, we apply the hierarchy of fall protection to the thousands of fall hazard assessments we conduct every year.

The fall protection hierarchy is a ranked system of solutions ranging from the most effective to the least. Eliminating fall hazards from your worksite is always the best option. Still, if this is not possible, we must evaluate the options of passive fall protection systems, travel restraints, fall arrest systems, and administrative controls, in that order.

Hazard assessments include on-site inspections of the work environment as well as work routines and processes. When this assessment is applied to the hierarchy of fall protection, a detailed report and plan of action are created that delineate how you can best make your workplace safe and OSHA-compliant.

How can you help companies comply with OSHA’s Walking Working Surfaces regulations? (Kelpe)

The 2017 updates to the Walking Working Surface Standard and 1910.140 create some very clear requirements for building owners and employers. In many cases these requirements existed as a part of one consensus standard or another, but now they carry the force of law. To reduce or eliminate falls, we must change the work, change the workplace, or change the worker, and Subpart D requires a little bit of everything.

Workers exposed to falls must be protected by passive fall protection or an active personal fall protection system (see 1910.28 and 1910.29). Existing anchorages and tie-off points must also be inspected and certified at regular intervals by persons qualified for those tasks, respectively, with documentation of these activities produced (1910.27). OSHA now details requirements for training and re-training in the law (1910.30).

Whether hazard assessment and fall hazard training, testing and certification, system design and installation, or authorized person training and re-training, we have built our entire business offering to create compliance with worker safety standards. We exist as a partner to owners, employers, and end-users—to separate workers from hazards and save lives.

The #1 OSHA violation is falls in construction. What have you done to help companies avoid this violation? (Spirko)

Reducing fall-related injuries in the workplace and OHSA citations requires a united effort that places awareness and education at its core. Initiatives such as OSHA’s annual Stand-Down to Prevent Falls event help drive awareness and provide a great start, but more can always be done.

At Diversified Fall Protection, we offer free education programs to help organizations understand codes and standards. Proactively conducting fall hazard assessments is another excellent way to identify and eliminate hazards before an OSHA citation or accident occurs.

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When should companies think about using freestanding and mobile fall arrest systems? (Kelpe)

When hazardous work is not confined to a single area, or when structural anchorage connectors are not available overhead, freestanding and/or mobile fall arrest systems can be employed. These systems are often used in large equipment and vehicle maintenance, or in areas where rolling stock is loaded/unloaded or maintained and tarped. Freestanding systems are also available for use over holes in a lower level that open to a confined space. As with other overhead fall protection, these systems are ideal for arresting a fall with minimal vertical clearance.

How do your rigid rail fall arrest systems work? (Spirko)

As previously mentioned, the preferred approach to addressing fall hazards is to eliminate the fall hazard or to install a passive fall protection system or work restraints. A rigid rail system is our preferred overhead fall arrest option if this is impossible, and a fall arrest system is required.

When evaluating overhead fall arrest system options, the choice commonly includes rigid rail and cable-based systems. Installation costs for overhead cable-based systems are generally much lower than overhead rigid rail systems; however, when it comes to usability and maintenance, rigid rail systems provide many advantages.

Overhead rigid rail systems’ higher degree of safety, significant usage advantages, and lower maintenance costs make their higher initial cost worth the investment.

Explain the type of training you offer after a fall protection and/or fall arrest system is installed. (Kelpe)

Education and training are critical aspects of our brand positioning and service offering, respectively. In addition to extensive accredited continuing education for architects, engineers, EHS managers, and many others, our Services division is focused on creating compliance with standards including 1910.27 and .30.

Training on the installed product is often included in the project proposal, of course, and is conducted according to the manufacturer’s direction. But we also offer fall hazard identification, authorized and competent person training, and more. Our Services team offers engineering consultation as well as testing and certification, including re-certification, for fall protection and suspended access equipment installed by us or others.

What is the #1 takeaway you want readers to know about Diversified Fall Protection? (Spirko)

For over 25 years, our core purpose at Diversified Fall Protection has been making sure workers make it home. We accomplish this by being a trusted safety advisor or an extension of our customers’ safety teams. From fall hazard identification to system installation, training, and inspections, we align with our customers to develop long-term partnerships that keep workers safe.

Kevin Kelpe is the Continuing Education Manager, Diversified Fall Protection (fallprotect.com).

Steve Spirko is the Director of Corporate Marketing, Diversified Fall Protection (fallprotect.com).

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