- The Fall Arrest Acknowledgement System (F.A.A.S.), a safety harness patented by a Clayco project superintendent, is a new safety device that can be retrofitted into boom and scissor lifts.
- The device, though still in its infancy stages, will not be proprietary to Clayco, said Kile Nuehring, a St. Louis-based Clayco project superintendent. The innovation team has plans to roll out the device to construction sites across the country.
- Falls remain the No. 1 cause of death in the construction industry, causing a third of all jobsite deaths, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
There were 401 fall deaths out of 1,102 total deaths in construction in 2019, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor data. During that same year, falls, slips and trips increased 11%. The construction industry also has the most fatal falls out of any industry in the country, representing a little more than half of all falls nationally, according to NIOSH.
F.A.A.S. addresses this industry issue. The device consists of circuits that prevent power from going to the controls of a boom or scissor lift if a safety lanyard is not properly attached during operations. If for any reason while the operator is elevated, the lanyard is removed, the green acknowledgement light turns red and audible horn sounds until the magnetic sensor is closed again by re-installing the lanyard hook, making the operator safe again.
"I was in the military working at great heights, I was a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic, KC-10 midair refueling mechanic when I was in the Air Force, so I’ve always been around scissor lifts, boom lifts, things of that nature," said Nuehring. "I was on a job in Indiana, building a feed mill, and we had a fall protection issue. A guy that I knew fell out of a lift doing a basket to basket transfer and he died. And when you spend a lot of time 180 feet in the air or 200 feet in the air, you can see yourself in that role, and it's very personal at that point."
When properly used, self-retracting devices can help prevent serious injury or death when a workplace fall occurs. The recently updated ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021 standard establishes requirements for the use of self-retracting devices.
"It hasn't gotten any better. Some people will say, 'oh the numbers have dropped, it’s down to 35%.' What they're not taking into effect is the workforce has gotten larger," said Nuehring. "If we're throwing band-aids at something, why are the falls from heights still the No. 1 cause of death?"
For around $200 to $300 in parts and labor, F.A.A.S. can be implemented onto a machine on the jobsite, said Nuehring. He added that there is a potential for the price point to be lower in the future, as the device still remains in its infancy stages.
"Could I sell this thing, make a couple million, and ride off into the sunset? Absolutely," said Nuehring. "[But] when you take the statistics, and you make it personal, I can't in good conscience, sell just for a profit. I have to see it to fruition."