Page 20 - OHS, November/December 2021
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How the Magic of Numbers 4, 5, 6 Play a Role in Fall Protection
As safety professionals, we must remember the magic numbers and remind employees of them to save lives.
As safety professionals you might ask yourselves, “Is the standard for fall protection 4 feet, 5 feet, 6 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet or 30 feet? Why is there so much disparity regarding how much impact the human body can take?” The National Safety Council reported that 146 workers were killed in falls on the same level in 2019. 1 The concept of horizontal versus vertical standards in OSH is driven by common sense when it comes to fall protection. Since no employee is more likely to survive a fall than any other, these standards are vital to keeping everyone safe. So, why do we have these numbers?
Simple Math Solutions
The numbers four, five and six represent general, maritime and construction (GMC) industry fall protection standards, respectively. When teaching fall protection, I enjoy employing math to assist the students in remembering these standards. We begin with the three most important numbers representing the general, maritime and construction industries: 4-5-6.
These three numbers, when multiplied and added, can greatly assist in remembering safe heights that one might employ during different workplace safety scenarios. These common heights used in the safety industry help to determine how far a person might fall before sustaining serious injuries or even death.
Scaffolds. According to OSHA’s standard for Scaffolding, 1926.451, fall protection must be provided for employees working on a scaffold at heights greater than 10 feet. You can remember this standard height by adding the magic numbers four and six: 4 + 6 = 10 feet.
Walking/Working Surfaces. According 1910.28, or Duty to Have Fall Protection and Falling Object Protection, employers must provide fall protection for workers who will be engaged in an activity on a walking/working surface with an unprotected edge at heights of 15 feet or more. To remember this standard number you can use all three magic numbers: 4 +5 + 6 = 15 feet.
Ladders. When it comes to wooden step ladders, OSHA 20 Occupational Health & Safety | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021

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