In the aviation industry, maintenance workers, mechanics, inspectors and a host of other ground support personnel are responsible for keeping aircraft in peak condition so that every part of these highly complex machines operates safely and correctly. But what’s involved in actively keeping support crews safe from occupational falls and injuries?
It’s first important to realize the real dangers involved with working at heights — as well as in close proximity to heavy equipment, fuel and other potentially harmful factors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an annual average of more than 300,000 occupational injuries are the result of falls. In addition, between 2011 and 2016, the amount of work-related fatalities due to falls rose by 26 percent.
Taking every precaution to eliminate all chances of a fall is the most prudent course of action. However, due to the nature of aircraft and the work that needs to be done on them, aviation maintenance workers are frequently required to put themselves in situations where a fall could occur if proper safety measures weren’t in place. Clearly, fall protection safety — and the equipment that supports it — is a topic well worth being fully acquainted with.
What Is Fall Protection?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration identifies falls as one of the most serious causes of work-related injuries and fatalities, so it sets out standards intended to protect workers from falls. In general industry, OSHA expects proper fall protection equipment to be in place and used by personnel working at a height of four feet or greater off the ground. In addition, it requires fall protection to be in place when work is done over potentially dangerous machinery and equipment.
In broad terms, fall protection equipment can be classified as any permanent or temporary apparatus put in place to prevent a fall — such as railings and maintenance stands — or to restrain or arrest a fall — such as lanyards and lifelines.
Work at Height Safety Tips
To prevent a misstep or mistake from turning into a dangerous and/or costly accident, all aviation ground personnel working at height should keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Use railings: As a form of passive protection — or one that needs no conscious interaction to work properly — the use of railings on everything from stairs to work platforms is an outstanding way to prevent workers from falling.
- Use proper PPE and inspect regularly: It’s essential to select and regularly inspect personal protective equipment, or PPE. From choosing harnesses that fit properly to inspecting lanyards for signs of wear and tear, PPE is effective only when it’s in good shape and utilized according to its intended purpose.
- Use the proper types of fall protection equipment: From selecting D-rings with properly working closures to using lanyards and fall arrest systems that accurately correspond with the wearer’s height, you simply can’t substitute proper PPE. It’s also important to remember that for a deceleration device to prevent injury, you must also take the sag of the harness into account.
To learn more about selecting the right fall protection equipment, including our 100 percent American-made aircraft maintenance stands, feel free to contact us today.