Safety Focus of the Week: Fall Protection Concerns on Highway Bridges
General Fall Protection was our safety focus back in June – Fall Protection Safety Blog – Week of June 3, 2011
This week, we are expanding upon the topic by discussing some specific fall protection issues unique to working on the deck of a highway bridge. The paving & cold planing crews have been and are scheduled to work on the North Williston Road bridge over the Winooski River. The project involves work on the bridge deck only. Generally, one would not think that fall protection is a concern on a bridge where we are working within the guard rails. Upon further inspection we see that there are several concerns that need addressing when working from a bridge higher than 6 feet and/or working above a water body:
- The guard rails on a bridge are typically 36 inches high, less than the required 39 inches needed to meet OSHA. This requires some type of fall protection when working within 6 feet of the edge of the bridge. Once we have milled the surface down on the North Williston Road bridge, we will be at the required 39 inches.
- Working from an elevated platform (such as on a piece of equipment) requires some type of fall protection if the equipment is working closer than 6 feet to the edge. If the equipment has seatbelts, then the operator is considered to be inside of the equipment and is not subject to the fall protection requirements. However, working on the back end of the paver or on the milling machine where there are no seatbelts, the worker must have fall protection. In these situations, our workers will be wearing a fall arrest system with lanyard attached to a suitable anchorage on the equipment.
- Working above water also requires an approved personal flotation device (PFD). On the North Williston Bridge, this concern is limited to when the workers are not seatbelted in equipment and are not tied off.
If you visit the jobsite, or are assigned to the project, you will need to carefully read and follow the specifics of the tailboard.