Danger: Fall Zone

One of the most important steps in planning for, and making, safety a reality on the worksite is knowing where people are going to be working while high hazard activities are taking place. So far in the 2015 construction season, there have been several types of dangerous conditions taking place repeatedly. We must stop these behavior patterns before a life-threatening injury takes place. One of those dangerous behaviors is allowing non-essential personnel in fall zones.

Today we will talk about the necessity to keep the fall zone clear when we lift materials with a crane. The OSHA Crane Standard Subpart CC defines a fall zone as:

“Fall zone means the area (including, but not limited to, the area directly beneath the load) in which it is reasonably foreseeable that partially or completely suspended materials could fall in the event of an accident.”

Suspended loads can fall, and they can seriously injure anyone under, or near, the load in the fall zone. There are times when workers must be in a fall zone area, and OSHA regulations allow for this if they are working on an essential job related to the suspended load. The following standard identifies the essential jobs:

29 CFR 1926.1425(e)(2)

“Only employees essential to the operation are permitted in the fall zone (but not directly under the load.) An employee is essential to the operation if the employee is conducting one of the following operations and the employer can demonstrate it is infeasible for the employee to perform that operation from outside the fall zone: (1) physically guide the load; (2) closely monitor and give instructions regarding the load’s movement; or (3) either detach it from or initially attach it to another component or structure (such as, but not limited to, making an initial connection or installing bracing.)”

Only workers directly involved with managing or rigging the load should ever be in the fall zone. When workers are in the fall zone, the crane operator must know where they are in relation to where the load is and where it’s going. They should either be in the crane operator’s line of sight or in communication with the crane operator. All other employees should stay out of the fall zone until the crane operator delivers the load.

Plan ahead, and stay out of a fall zone. If the lift or rigging fails, you will have saved lives.