Heads up! Watch out if you’re working above others, walking below elevated work surfaces

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Courtesy of CH2M Hill Companies, Ltd.

If you’re working above others or walking below elevated work surfaces, you need to be aware of what’s happening overhead and around you at all times – you could be exposed to falling objects that could strike you.

The possibility of being struck by a falling object is one of the reasons you need to wear a hardhat, safety glasses, a high-visibility vest and protective footwear when you’re working in these conditions. And by diligently following health and safety procedures, we can prevent incidents and injuries that may happen when working above others or walking below elevated work surfaces.

Fall protection violations are typically at the top of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s violation list each year, and understandably so, since they include tools and people – really anything that can fall – whether it’s a worker, tools or equipment.

Since safety is always a focus area for us here at CH2M, our efforts should always be on preventing objects from falling rather than catching objects or on limiting damage after something falls. So how do we do that? Here are some ways to prevent injury from falling objects:

  1. Wear a hardhat, safety glasses, high-visibility vest, and protective footwear.
  2. Securely stack and store materials to prevent sliding, collapsing, or falling.
  3. Secure tools and other loose materials to prevent them from falling.
  4. Use toeboards, screens and guardrails on scaffolds to prevent falling objects.
  5. Use debris nets, catch platforms or canopies to catch or deflect falling objects as needed.
  6. Barricade areas where falling objects are a hazard and post a warning sign.
  7. Don’t work under loads as they are being moved to upper levels.

You should think about preventing falling object injuries in your home too:

  1. Secure all bookcases and shelving units to your wall using brackets, screws or bolts.
  2. Fasten all large, heavy objects directly to the surface with straps, Velcro or brackets. Adhesives can be used also to attach heavy items, such as televisions and animal cages, directly to surfaces.
  3. Place your largest and heaviest items on your lowest shelves. Keeping the heaviest items on your bottom helps to stabilize a unit and can prevent children from pulling heavy objects on top of them.
  4. Mount televisions to the ceiling. It’s the only way to remove all potential of a TV getting pulled on top of a child.
  5. Install self-locking latches. Cabinet doors can easily be pulled open by children, spilling their contents, which could fall on and harm children.
  6. Mount pictures and bulletin boards properly. Content on bulletin boards can attract small children who might grab at the bottom and possibly dislodge the bulletin board, causing it to fall.
  7. Place glass cages and aquariums on a wide, stable table and secure them with a strap to the wall. When possible, use Plexiglas or other glass substitutes to minimize an injury if they fall.

Let’s start 2017 off right and focus on staying safe around falling objects and preventing them from falling during the month of January.

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