Just Hangin’ Around: Demos help address fall injuries through education, awareness

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Fall protection was the focus of a two-week campaign across the Air Force as well as various construction and high-risk fields across the country. 

At Robins that awareness message is taken to heart each and every day, and this week it included several live demonstrations of how protective equipment is used by professionals in the field.    

Outside Bldg. 321, home of the 402nd Maintenance Support Group's Plant Services, harnesses, shock-absorbing lanyards, tie-down anchors and other equipment were showcased to workers, as well as a scenario of how much force can be exerted from a 220-pound weight if the proper fall protection is not used.  

Team Robins partnered with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in support of the message, giving workers like Johnny Watkins, a 402nd MXSG production mechanic, insight and additional information on equipment he uses on the job.

"This is very educational because we're out there in all of this every day," he said. 

Coworker Jeff Cravey, 402nd MXSG equipment specialist, agreed.

"We basically have much of what they showed us in our own tool cribs," he said. "Most of the time people tell us how things work, but it's nice to have a demonstration." 

A representative from Capital Safety also talked about the do's and don'ts of personal protective equipment. For example, no sharing of PPE is allowed, such as sharing and connecting lanyards. It's also important to frequently and closely inspect PPE. 

Another thing for workers to pay close attention to is what is kept inside their pockets, as it can pose a hazard. Keys, pens and other objects have been known to cause serious injuries and fatalities when PPE such as harnesses were deployed. 

The same hazards can be encountered by workers whether working in an industrial base atop a C-130 wing, or from someone stationed on top of a roof on a construction project. 

Much of the PPE demonstrated is used by 78th Civil Engineer Group and other units who may work on rooftops, tops of aircraft or on lifts. 

A few times a week Juan Solis, also with 402nd MXSG Plant Services, uses some of the equipment described in the presentation.

"We use harnesses quite a bit, and I do a lot of work using hoists, scissor lifts and (equipment) that goes up to 135 feet," he said. "It's a good class to keep us on our toes. That's why we use wingmen and always have spotters - safety is our No. 1 concern."  

Workers in the 402nd MXSG provide a wide range of industrial and engineering services for maintenance production groups in the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. 

That can include designing, installing, modifying and maintaining, and repairing ground support equipment, and facilities maintenance. 

Demos were also conducted in Bldgs. 91 and 125.

"We wanted to highlight this at Robins as a reminder to everyone why fall protection is important," said Scott Eck, Installation Safety chief. "We want everyone to come to work, do their job and go back home to their families. They shouldn't have to worry about getting hurt on the job."   

Anytime a worker is elevated more than four feet from the ground, fall protection is required. 

"Falls nationwide account for about 30 to 40 percent of all the fatalities we investigate. That's why this area is something we are focused on," said William Fulcher, OSHA's Atlanta East Area Office director, who participated in the week's event at Robins. "In Georgia in 2014, we had 38 fatalities we investigated. The statistics hold true of those resulting from falls."  

According to the Air Force Safety Center, from fiscal 2010 to 2014, falls were responsible for more than 7,600 ground mishaps with injuries, including three fatalities. This resulted in 44,000 lost work days at a cost of more than $30 million. 

"This is as an important issue to the Air Force, as it is to me," said Bill Parsons, Air Force ground safety chief. "Preventing fall injuries and fatalities in every workplace - the flight line, the construction site, the office and at home - through education and awareness keeps our airmen mission ready."