Study: Fall Prevention Works, Even Anchored to Wood Frame

Fall protection on residential construction sites has long been the subject of controversy. Some residential construction firms have argued that that the wood frames and trusses common in homebuilding aren't suitable to safely anchor personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). Adapting the structures to make them suitable would be prohibitively expensive, requiring special engineering services.

 Jeremy Bethancourt and Mark Cannon, supported by CPWR, have completed a study that should help workers and contractors breathe easier. Examining more than a dozen case files covering falls and near misses at a Southwestern U.S. frame carpentry firm - one that has been employing fall protection for years - they documented how in each case the PFAS had worked as intended and either averted a fall in the first place or arrested the fall, preventing a serious injury.

The authors conclude that today many fall arrest devices are designed to stop a falling worker with less sudden force applied to the worker's body or the anchor point, making it possible to safely tie off to a typical wood-framed structure. It's eminently possible for homebuilders to comply with OSHA standards, and save lives, without expensive custom engineering. 

In invite you to take a look at Fall Protection: Structural Efficacy of Residential Structures for Fall Protection Systems in the May 2015 edition of Professional Safety.   

Pete Stafford

Executive Director