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Kennedy Employees 'Fall' for Safety
Mike Hughes, a United Space Alliance safety engineer, was one of 13 Kennedy Space Center employees who recently participated in the new Competent Person Fall Protection training class to be updated on current safety practices and certified as a "fall-protection competent person."

Worker safely makes his way down a highbay structure NASA, Boeing, InDyne Inc., Space Gateway Support and NASA safety contractor Hernandez Engineering, personnel also participated in the class coordinated by the Center's Safety directorate. The class was led by fall-protection engineering firm Gravitec Systems of Seattle. The workers learned about fall-protection systems and then worked together as a team to design, build and use the systems.

Image right: Tethered to various safety lines and suspended about 50 feet in the air, Mike Hughes worked his way down on the Vertical Processing Facility's highbay steel structure. Image credit: NASA/KSC

According to Gravitec program manager Kevin Denis, slips, trips and falls are among the highest causes of injury or death in the workplace. Falls from heights during construction are the number one cause of fatality. At KSC, hundreds of employees perform daily work from heights. Facility maintenance, Space Shuttle operations, payloads, cranes, construction and roofing are areas of concern.

Earlier this year, Kennedy's Institutional Safety Organization invited Gravitec to conduct a detailed survey of more than 400 elevated Center worksites, and recommend innovative solutions to fall-protection hazards. Gravitec also surveyed contractors for input regarding possible hazards in their work areas.

Workers participate in safety classes According to Kennedy Facility Systems safety engineer Robert Turner, Gravitec is very knowledgeable on the latest fall-protection equipment, best practices and what other companies are doing to ensure safety. "We want to standardize the fall safety guidelines at KSC," said Turner. "We can benchmark other companies' fall-safety programs against NASA to determine what we can do to be in the 'best practices' category."

Image left: The fall-protection class kept diligent watch on their coworker safely making his way down the highbay's steel structure. Image credit: NASA/KSC

NASA KSC Facility Design Engineering also participated in the site survey and fall-protection class to gain insight for future facility modifications and designs. Denis says many features such as handrails and horizontal lifelines, and methods such as moving equipment back from the top of buildings, can be factored into the design of newer buildings. "Design engineers are the first line of defense," Denis said.

Turner said the survey results will be presented in September. NASA and contractor personnel will then develop new fall-protection program guidelines and establish priorities for facility fall-protection upgrades.

Linda Herridge, KSC Staff Writer
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center