Fall Protection Improvement Efforts for Indiana Contractors
In late 2006 and early 2007, a review of field observation data from contractor activity at Indiana plant sites appeared to indicate significant deficiencies in fall protection practices. The decision was made that improving fall protection practices would be a top priority initiative for 2007 and a team was formed to work on the initiative. The primary data available to the team was field observations of fall protection practices collected by SMG field reps. The data did indicate issues, but did not contain enough information to point to the action needed to make improvements. The decision was made to improve the data collection and analysis process to get more and better data.
The team developed a list of what it considered to be key fall protection practices. It was the position of the team that these practices were critical to “getting it right”. Some of the key practices included; fall distance calculation, recognition of swing radius, proper use and inspection of ladders, proper use and inspection of scaffolding, proper selection of PFAS, proper section of anchor points, recognition of floor openings, inspection of fall protection equipment and fall protection planning.
The following improvements have been made a result of the fall protection initiative:
- Field interactions have increased between observers and field workers. More recognition is being given to positive behaviors, more concern being shown for well being, and more effort on building relationships. When corrections are needed, people are respectfully informed up front so that having an issue in a report later is not a surprise.
- SMG is working to increase understanding of why problems exist by asking questions in the field.
- Written comments being captured have greatly improved.
- A fall protection checklist was assembled by the fall protection team for use in the field. This gave everyone a better understanding of “safe” behavior expectations.
Path forward for the Fall Protection initiative:
- Fall protection observations by SMG will be resuming soon, at a frequency of about 2 per month per SMG rep.
- Members of the fall protection team will be working to communicate the learning points mentioned above to both Lilly and non Lilly stakeholders in many forums.
- Continued development of the SMG field observation system will be passed from the fall protection team to a separate group.
- The Fall Protection initiative will continue to be tracked to get these items completed, but will be tracked as a second tier initiative rather than top tier.
The data gathered in both the pilot and the statewide field observations indicate much better field practices than the data prior to this initiative. The new style field observations indicated “% safe” had gone from around 60% to over 92%, with nearly all shortcomings observed being relatively minor in nature. The team believes that part of this improvement is “real” change, and part is just a reflection of improved observation and data gathering practices. Either way, a key point is that the fall protection team and management now feel much more confident that actual field practices are not a serious problem.