Offshore Fall Protection

Business owners have many responsibilities, and ensuring the safety of their employees as they work is one of the most important obligations of an employer.

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Published on: June 20, 2013

Business owners have many responsibilities, and ensuring the safety of their employees as they work is one of the most important obligations of any employer. Because of their locations or the nature of the work, some occupations are more hazardous than are others. An offshore environment presents some unique dangers, and supplying employees and structures on offshore drilling platforms with the proper safety equipment is critical for the fall protection of everyone in the industry.

Correctly applied safety equipment should provide the ultimate protection for workers while allowing them to move about freely and perform their jobs effectively. Cumbersome, ill-fitting gear can tempt employees to relax safety procedures and expose themselves to avoidable dangers.

The risk of falling is great for offshore workers who regularly walk on wet surfaces and climb to high elevations. Fall protection is one of the most important safety measures that employers can implement to create a secure work environment for their employees. Manufacturers have developed an impressive array of high-quality fall protection equipment to help business owners meet their safety goals for everyone.

Designed for comfort and performance, many of today’s full-body harnesses have quick-connect buckles, back pads, removable seat slings and positioning D-rings.

A roof anchor with tiebacks provides security for lifelines, and workers need to have expert training and use the equipment correctly with the proper lanyards and harnesses for maximum fall protection. In addition, maintenance personnel should perform load testing of tiebacks every year to ensure their continued safe performance.

A traction hoist performs a variety of tasks, and owners must keep the hoist properly maintained to make certain it always functions with maximum safety.

Accidents can happen quickly, and even skilled workers may experience falls, but with properly placed netting systems and other fall arrest equipment, the employees can avoid or minimize injury.

Designed to rescue a falling person, an innovative device contained in a backpack gently lowers the individual to the ground. The device has a ripcord similar to that of a parachute, a braking mechanism with a spool of high strength cord and an easily released harness along with an alternate release mechanism for use by a bystander if necessary.

Superior design and installation of the equipment are vital for effective fall protection and fall arrest, but ongoing training and maintenance are crucial as well. Properly trained maintenance personnel should perform a fall protection system inspection at least once a year, and each employee using fall protection equipment needs to carefully examine it before every use. Workers must look for visible damage, deterioration or wear in the equipment and make sure it is functioning properly as well.

A complete fall protection system inspection and re-certification consists of:

  • Checking and resetting tension on the lines
  • Checking for signs of wear on fixing elements
  • Checking for wear on hardware components
  • Lubrication of turnbuckles, shackles and other moving parts
  • Recertification of self-retracting lifelines
  • Checking for looseness of single-point anchorages
  • Checking for modifications or structural damage to single-point anchorages
  • Checking all beam and trolley system structural connections
  • Checking for damage to beam and trolley system beams
  • Ensuring that trolleys of beam and trolley systems operate smoothly
  • Checking retractable lifelines for signs of corrosion, rust, debris build-up, frays, kinks or broken strands
  • Checking for cable slippage on swaged fittings of retractable lifelines
  • Checking anchorage points of retractable lifelines for looseness or damage
  • Checking fall indicators on retractable lifelines for signs of falls
  • Inspecting webbing or cables on full-body harnesses and lanyards for tears, frays, kinks or broken strands
  • Checking shock absorbers for signs of falls

Qualified instructors should train employees in the proper use of fall protection and fall arrest systems as well as in the appropriate methods of equipment inspection. New employees need to receive instruction through a fall arrest training program before they begin working, and experienced employees should have periodic refresher courses as well. In addition, a thorough fall arrest system inspection should take place annually.

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