Q&A: Fall Protection with 3M

Q&A: Fall Protection with 3M


It's not every day you get the opportunity to ask 3M fall protection experts questions. 

That's why we've asked Philippe Ratté, Ron Crespo, and David Livingston from 3M, and our specialist Arturo Montero to join us at our virtual event: Questions and Answers on Fall Protection.

During this fun and interactive event, we asked you, the public, to send us your questions about working at heights or working in confined spaces to get the actual answers.

What questions were asked? Read our brief summary to find out!

1. How can we choose the right energy absorber? What is the difference between classes E4 and E6?

Classes E4 and E6 still exist and are still legal and safe. However, in the past, these classes have caused a lot of confusion in selecting them based on the height and weight of the workers.

Class E4:

  • Energy absorbers or restraining lanyards absorbing the standardized energy of 4.0 kN
  • Designed for workers weighing between 100 and 254 pounds
  • Maximum extension of 4 feet (1.2 meters)

Class E6:

  • Energy absorbers or restraining lanyard absorbing the standardized energy of 6.0 kN
  • Designed for workers weighing between 200 and 386 pounds
  • Maximum extension of 5.7 feet (1.7 meters)

Important to remember:

  • Always examine and learn about the equipment before using it. Look at the manufacturer's label carefully. The recent revision of the CSA Z259.11-17 standard implies that manufacturers must write the fall protection product information in both languages.
  • The maximum weight of a worker includes his equipment (boots, helmet, clothing, and fall protection equipment).

2. Is it dangerous to strap on your shoulders when descending in a confined space?

If the confined space is hollow and the worker has to descend for more than 3 seconds, it is recommended to have a specialized harness with an integrated seat where the individual will be comfortable and where there will be no pressure or cut-off to the blood circulation.

3. Is it mandatory to have a rescue plan when working in a confined space?

Yes, Section 309 of the RSST (Regulation respecting occupational health and safety) requires:

"A rescue procedure that provides for the prompt rescue of any worker performing work in a confined space must be developed and tested. Such a procedure must be applied as soon as the situation requires it".

4. What is a rescue procedure?

There are several types of confined space rescue procedures. The procedure should include equipment, rescue team, communication devices, description of roles and responsibilities, evacuation plan, and documentation procedures.

This procedure must be tested in your environment and adapted to your confined space and reality. Did you know that SPI Health and Safety can help you set up this rescue procedure to meet your needs?

Contact us now to learn more about our audit service by phone at 1-877 544.0911.

5. Is there a regulatory requirement that there must be a supervisor when working at heights to initiate the rescue plan if a worker falls?

In confined spaces, it is mandatory to have a dedicated individual to supervise. For working at heights, the provincial regulation strongly suggests this, and nowadays, it is quite rare to see a person working at heights alone.

However, federal regulations require a supervisor at all times to activate emergency measures as quickly as possible in the event of an incident. A fall protection plan that includes a supervisor is recommended.

6. Does the use of trauma equipment extend the time available to perform the rescue, or does it only provide relief to the worker? Also, what about possible complications from harness pressure?

In case of rescue in confined spaces or work at heights, blood circulation in the legs must not be stopped. Anti-trauma straps, when properly adjusted, allow blood circulation to be maintained for a more extended period, which gives the rescuer more time.

Always perform the rescue as quickly as possible while following the rescue plan.

7. Do I have to list all fall hazard locations and tasks in my work environment?

If you refer to the RSST regulations, it is not mandatory. However, we recommend that you list all work locations at height to control the risks as much as possible. By knowing and indicating them, you can choose the right equipment.

However, federal regulations require establishing a fall protection plan that includes the identification of hazards and the equipment to be used. Provincial regulations do not require this and do not refer to identifying hazards when working at heights.

8. What training is required for workers conducting tasks at heights and those who would perform a confined space rescue?

Workers who are required to perform tasks at heights must be trained on the subject.

At SPI Health and Safety, we offer different fall protection training:

Confined Space Rescue Training is a three-day practical and theoretical training course that includes general training on working at heights and then the theoretical and practical aspects of rescue.

SPI also has a simulator, a fixed ladder, a ramp, and much more equipment that is dedicated to practical training. We are fortunate enough to be able to practice confined space and work at heights rescue, either at SPI or at your company.

We invite you to check out these additional free resources: