Effectively trained employees will be able to identify and recognize fall hazards in the workplace and the areas where fall events are likely to occur. For each fall hazard that is identified, employees also must understand how following the procedures that have been established will protect them from injury or death [29 CFR 1910.30(a)].

Instruction must include how to properly use any tools and equipment such as ladders and safety net systems, portable guardrails, mobile ladder stands and mobile platforms. Employees also need to understand any limitations that these devices present and how misuse can cause injury or death. If personal fall protection systems will be used, training must include proper hook-up, anchoring, tie-off techniques, inspection and equipment storage [29 CFR 1910.30(a)(3)].

Using the equipment manufacturer's specifications and instruction manuals can help simplify training on the proper care, inspection, storage and use of each item. OSHA also permits employers to use "designated areas" when they determine that other fall protection methods and equipment are not feasible. When designated areas are used, employers must properly mark the areas and provide training on the procedures to be used there.

Retraining

Because falls continue to be a leading cause of workplace injury and death, employers need to ensure that training remains effective over time. According to the Federal Register notice, training requirements "impose an ongoing responsibility on employers to maintain worker proficiency. As such, when workers are no longer proficient, the employer must retrain them."

There is no annual retraining or other specific required interval for retraining. Some of the events that can trigger the need for retaining include: performing a job or operating equipment in an unsafe manner, a fall incident or a near miss. Changes in the workplace or in fall protection/prevention equipment also trigger retraining requirements [29 CFR 1910.30(c)].

Fall protection standards for the construction industry, coupled with advances in fall protection technology and a heightened awareness of fall hazards, have helped to reduce the number of fall-related construction injuries and deaths. Mirroring these efforts in general industry will help to simplify training requirements for many employers and provide additional levels of safety for general industry employees. 

Karen Hamel, CSP, WACH, is a regulatory compliance specialist and technical writer at New Pig Corp.