Working from Heights: Here’s How to Tie Off Safely

Employers in the construction industry are responsible for ensuring that workers have the protection and training they need to stay safe, including knowing how to tie-off safely. Falls are the number one reason for worker deaths in the construction industry. Injured workers or the families of those killed in work accidents are entitled to compensation for their injuries and other damages.

OSHA Fall Protection Requirements

According to information from the latest OSHA statistics, almost one-third of the total construction deaths in 2018 were due to falls. Whether a worker is 30 feet in the air, or standing on a four-foot ladder, OSHA requires fall protection for heights of four feet or more. Tying-off is a critical part of preventing a fall work injury.

Tying Off Prevents Injuries and Deaths

Tying off is critical for protecting a worker if he or she should slip or trip when working at heights. Even the best safety equipment in the world cannot fully protect a falling worker if they are not correctly tied off to a structure. To tie off successfully, careful consideration must be used to choosing the right fall protection equipment for the job and ensuring it is inspected and maintained before being used.

There are three critical components known as the ABCs of fall protection that make a complete fall protection system:

  1. Anchorage refers to a tie-off point that could be an I-beam or other strong structure that has been certified to support at least 5,000 pounds of force per worker being tied off. The anchorage is the secure point of attachment for a fall arrest system. An anchorage connector like a beam anchor, cross-arm strap, or D-bolt is used to join the connecting device to the anchorage.
  2. Body support is the personal protective bodywear that the worker needs to wear when working at heights. The full-body harness, which is worn around the worker’s torso has a center back fall arrest attachment that connects to the fall arrest system’s connecting device. It distributes fall arrest forces across the wearer’s thighs, pelvis, and shoulders.
  3. Connectors need to be selected according to the potential fall distance and type of work being performed. The most common types are lanyards and self-retracting lifelines (SRLs).

Training is Key to Protecting Workers

Lack of fall protection and fall protection training are among OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited standards violations in 2018. OSHA requires that construction workers be trained with the knowledge they need to work safely from heights.