Hangar Safety and Fall Protection
Begin a Culture of Safety Starting Today
Without a culture of safety in your hangar, there is an increased risk of having an accident occur.
Creating such a culture requires more than just a few signs and the occasional training session. A true culture of safety is reinforced every day in multiple ways. Rules and regulations are important, as they should be, but so are practical solutions.
You want your people to remain productive without worrying about whether or not they’ll suffer an injury. It is that kind of indecision, in fact, that typically leads to an injury happening.
A great place to get started when discussing hangar safety and fall protection is to point out one simple fact: rules and regulations are in place because someone already suffered an injury because those steps were ignored or they did not exist. Something as simple as a wedding band can be enough to cause a gruesome injury while on duty.
Many of today’s maintenance veterans have experienced at least one accident. Some have lifelong scars that prove their dedication, but are also reminders of why safety must be a culture, not just a priority. Accidents may still continue to happen. By reinforcing the concepts of safety every day and making it part of the routine instead of another rule to follow, it is possible to reduce injury rates.
Make Sure You Get Your Safety Basics Right
There are always a few people on every maintenance team that are the “tough guys.” These are the men and women who feel like they can work without proper protective equipment.
In the hangar, proper personal protective equipment, your PPEs, must be a top priority. Hearing protection, eye protection, gloves when necessary, and breathing protection must be part of your standard policies. OSHA requires employers to provide and pay for PPE in the United States. 
What is often overlooked with PPE in a culture of hangar safety is the clothing workers are wearing. Protective clothing may or may not be necessary, but loose clothing and long hair must be eliminated. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear your hair long, but it should be tied back. Any loose clothing items should be secured. 
Closed-toed shoes should be mentioned in your PPE policies as well. If they are not, then those “tough guys” may come to work wearing flip-flops and hold you liable if something happens to their feet. In the hangar, safety footwear should be a subject that is addressed from Day #1 of employment. Address sole punctures, toecaps, metatarsal protection, or even electric shock protection whenever necessary and perform regular inspections to ensure the correct footwear is being worn. 
Good Safety Means Having Safety Stations Available
The personal protective equipment your people wear in the hangar is only as good as its maintained condition. Since you are purchasing this equipment, you can mandate that it stay at the worksite. That reduces the risk of something unforeseen happening with the equipment, which can lessen liability risks.
One of the best ways to maintain a culture of safety is to setup various PPE supply and organization stations throughout your worksite. Have a place where boots can be left for the next day. Have dispensers for gloves, masks, and other disposable PPE items. A good way to get started with this design could be to install your first stations next to your mandatory MSDS “Right to Know” compliance centers. 
When safety items are visible in the hangar, they are more likely to be used.
To improve safety, consider offering a summary of your safety rules at each PPE station. You can include the full manual of regulations if you wish, but a poster of your standardized rules in bullet form can reinforce the idea of staying safe on the job for each worker. Incorporating images with each key point can encourage the culture of safety, as can the simple act of asking for employee feedback about the posters. 
Tips to Improve Fall Safety at Your Worksite
Preventing falls at your hangar requires every worker to be vigilant. Slips, trips, and falls in 2013 resulted in nearly 230,000 cases that involved time away from work at U.S.-based job sites. Over 700 workers were killed because of a fall they suffered. 
A culture of safety can reduce the risks of a fall when employees can spot a fall hazard and either remove or avoid it. Preventing slips and trips can be as simple as ensuring all walkways, platforms, and scaffolds are free of clutter, debris, or other obstacles. Here are some additional recommendations to implement.
- Any spills should be cleaned up immediately and warning signage should be placed at the location.
- All drawers, cabinets, and doors should be kept shut when not being used.
- Cords and cables should be properly covered if they must be in a walkway.
- Ensure proper lighting is in place.
- Use abrasive floor mats, treads, and other technologies that improve worker traction.
Falls can be prevented in the hangar with proper safety equipment. If working on an elevated platform, for example, the worker should have access to a proper safety harness. The harness should allow them to complete their work, but prevent them from falling should an unforeseen event occur.
Encourage workers to make wide turns whenever possible when walking around a corner, use handrails and other safety support devices, and encourage a culture that doesn’t make a worker feel like they need to rush.
A workplace that hasn’t had an accident yet is not evidence of a culture of safety. It just means there hasn’t been an accident. This culture begins at the top. Whether you’re an owner or a member of the C-Suite, make hangar safety and fall protection a top priority, starting with these basic principles.
 “Handout #7: Employers Must Provide and Pay for PPE.” Osha.gov.
 “8 Steps to Creating an Effective Health and Safety Poster.” NewGround. November 22, 2014.