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A Framer's Take on Fall Protection: #WorthIt

A few minutes up front can save tons of time when you're in the air—and it can eliminate broken ribs, a broken back, or death
August 09, 2018


00:07 Mike Pelkey: My name is Mike Pelkey, I worked in construction for 20 plus years. I've been here at Le Blanc for 10 years going on 11 and I'm a carpentry rough framer.

00:31 MP: Full Fall Protection means anything over 6 feet, you need to be tied off or working on a ladder or on scaffolding...

00:48 MP: Sometimes we use ropes, then we use the PSFAs or Personal Fall Safety Arrest systems, and they're kinda like a yo-yo, a cable that comes out and it retracts and goes back and forth.

01:05 MP: I was telling the guys earlier, we try to do a lot of work on the ground because it's a lot easier. When you're up in the air or anytime you're up in the air it's harder work, on a ladder, scaffold, on the roof, anything. It's always harder and more difficult to navigate through things and do things. It's better to do...

Try to figure out where your swing fall is gonna be, build your trusses on the ground and then try to get your anchor points on those, so when you send them up in the air, you have a good anchor point already there and you're not fumbling with it, with the ladder and trying to get to it and figure out how to get to it.

01:46 MP: Gearing up is not too bad, once you already have the fall protection in place and the anchors in place, it's not too bad. But to get to that point takes a couple extra hours and then the harnessing is not that bad. To put on a harness only takes maybe five minutes the most. And then there's checking all your equipment and making sure everything's in good working condition. It's not really that much of a time, once you get into a habit of doing it, it's not that bad.

02:19 MP: Experiences, it was rough, very rough at the first time. Very hard to get used to and it's a little complicated to figure out. But we got through it, we figured out easier ways how to do it and we're doing it, and it's working out.

02:40 MP: I fell a couple of times when I was working for another company, I broke three ribs and that wasn't fun. That was hard because I was out of work for four months with three broken ribs, it was not a good thing. If I'd had fall protection, it would have never happened.

03:04 MP: They have to wear it, but if you ask those guys, I don't know how they feel about it. But I think they should wear it, especially on tall roofs, when they're working 20 feet plus above. Even 10 feet's a good fall, so they should be wearing it then.

03:25 MP: Go into it with an open mind and say, "Look, we can make this work." These guys are making it work, so it works.

—This video is from CPWR, the Center for Construction Research and Training. CPWR works with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on construction safety and health research.

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