Harnesses or guardrails — which fall-protection strategy is safer and more productive?
While harnesses may seem like the simpler, cheaper solution, the truth is that guardrails provide a litany of benefits in both the short- and long-term. This includes organizational advantages, such as minimal inspections and maintenance, no rescue plan requirements, and limited ongoing costs (which actually makes a safety-rail system a more affordable option in the end — for a more comprehensive look at all the business-related advantages of guardrails, check out our resources page here).
Likewise, while organizations often benefit from selecting a passive, guardrail-based fall-protection strategy, there are also advantages to the workers themselves — those who perform the actual maintenance on the roof and require protection from fall hazards. Guardrail systems offer workers simplicity that allows for an easier and safer performance of their duties.
Guardrails Require No User Adoption
One of the primary benefits of guardrails is that they require no adoption from personnel working on the roof. To ensure safety and compliance, all the employee has to do when entering the work area is… nothing. This provides total peace of mind, as there is no chance of an injury/fall or a non-compliance infraction due to user error or negligence. Safety rails offer permanently functional protection.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity
Unlike harness lifelines, which restrict a worker’s range of motion, guardrail systems create no encumbrances to mobility. Workers are free to move about and complete their maintenance anywhere on the roof without fear of being restricted or tangled in their fall-protection equipment. Likewise, safety rails require no training for workers — this means there’s more time to perform maintenance and thus an increased rate of productivity.
Guardrails Provide Universal Protection
While harness-based systems restrict the number of workers on the roof, guardrails provide permanent and universal protection: every person who steps foot on the rooftop surface is protected at all times. And this universal protection means that a nearly unlimited number of employees can be working at the same time, each one of them fully safe and compliant without the need for training or rescue plans.
When considering a rooftop safety strategy, remember that guardrails are the simpler long-term solution — they provide a better, safer, and more productive user experience, while also increasing efficiency and guaranteeing compliance at all times. The unfortunate truth is that fall protection is an often-overlooked element of workplace safety (indeed, lack of fall protection is the number one cited OSHA infraction for the 12th year in a row). Be proactive and reach out to see how SRC can help build a safety system for your facility!
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