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Thursday
December 03rd, 2020

fall protection body harnessTri-State Safety Services President Ben Montoya demonstrates the use of a full body harness and another piece of equipment during a recent fall protection safety class. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Statistics show in 2018, 7,217 employers were cited for fall protection-general requirements, which is the #1 citation issued every year by OSHA. Additionally, 1,982 employers were cited for fall protection-training requirements. 

With such startling numbers, Tri-State Safety Services President Ben Montoya paid a visit to the students of Seward County Community College to talk about how to take precautions against dangerous falls, and Montoya said Friday’s talk went very well. 

“Friday went fantastic, it all went really well. The students were receptive, there was a lot of great engagement with the students, and I'm so glad they were all actively participating because the statistics, which show how 36,000 people die every year in the U.S. from falls – it's not just at work where people have to be safe, everyone also has to be sure they're safe at home,” Montoya said. “We talk about the concept of 24/7 safety, and we're creatures of habit – if we're safe at work, we'll be more apt to be safe at home, and on the other hand, if we live recklessly, we'll work recklessly, so those numbers aren't just for on-the-job falls, they're also for falls that happen at home. The reason I'm glad it went so well, and the reason I'm glad everyone was so interactive, is because I hope they all take what they learned and apply it to their professional and personal lives.”

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Montoya said fall protection is something that is always useful, but this time of year is a particularly good time to talk about it. 

“It's one of those things that's always good to talk about – the number one OSHA violation every year is fall protection violations, and OSHA has really hammered down on that this year for fall protection training,” Montoya said. “Realistically, this is something I could do a class on every month, it's something we could integrate into every other safety class we do because it's something that's always prevalent. However, this is the time of year where people get distracted more and get more in a hurry, and their minds are somewhere else – this is a time of year where people can become complacent and when that happens, it's easy for things to slip your mind and make you forget to take those extra safety precautions you need to, like the full-body harness that was demonstrated. This time of the year is great to talk about this so people don't get complacent or caught up in the major hubbub of everyday life and the upcoming holidays and so you stay safe.”

Overall, Montoya said, fall protection is something to think about on a daily basis. 

“Fall protection is important to talk about because think about the tasks people perform at home on a daily basis. And Christmas is coming up before everyone knows it, so there will be a lot of people outside and on ladders – drive around on the street sometime and you'll see people decorating their homes with the lights and everything else, but they don't have a lot of protection while they're doing that stuff,” Montoya said. “It's to help make these people remember it doesn't matter if you're at work or at home, a fall can cause just as much damage or injury no matter where it happens.”

Simply put, Montoya added, employers and employees must constantly be thinking about fall protection and other related safety measures. 

“To put it simply, employers and employees have one thing in common as far as an injury happening at work – it can be catastrophic,” Montoya said. “It can be catastrophic to the employer especially if OSHA issues a citation or fine or if work compensation affects their safety rating or if they get sued. On the employee level, it can be devastating to them and their families because now there's a loss of income due to that person not being able to work anymore, and eventually, the workman's compensation will run out and then the settlement will be made and all of that, and that person's family now has to live with that injured/disabled family member for the rest of their lives. It's equally catastrophic for employees and employers alike.”

Aside from having the information, Montoya said he hopes the students took away several other things from Friday’s lesson. 

“The reason I quote the OSHA general duty clause at the beginning of all my talks is I didn't just talk about fall protection, I integrated a lot of other concepts throughout the talk,” Montoya said. “So I'm hoping one of the main things they all take away is they're not only accountable to their employer and other work colleagues but also to themselves as far as making sure they're safe. That clause is in there because not only is the employer required to make sure the work environment is safe for the employees, but the employees also have to make sure they're following those guidelines and hold themselves accountable. This class was not only about fall protection and making sure they knew how to put on the harness and everything and use it correctly, but also to emphasize how they need to make sure they do what they can to keep safe. It’s always great coming here to the college and talking to young people who are impressionable and have the opportunity to go back to their workplace and make a difference, or go to their families and talk about what they learned from the lecture. My favorite part of doing any of these trainings is knowing I have put that knowledge out there to make people think and act and do the right thing – it feels great knowing I did something to help people stay that much safer. Tri-State Services revolves around keeping employees and employers safe and out of trouble.”

Montoya added if any business needs an assistance with safety, Tri-State Safety Services will be there. 

“We're going to be offering another one of these training sessions sometime in November and the public is always invited to attend, you don't have to be an industry professional to take one of these classes,” Montoya said. “I want people to know it doesn't matter what industry they're in, they can always call Tri-State Safety Services for a free consultation or risk assessment – and we'll come to them, they don't have to make a special trip to see me. We also do on-site trainings at those facilities, we've done several of those and they've been successful. And we don't want to just educate people, we also want to help provide solutions, that's what we're about.”

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