Assuring fall protection when working at heights
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Assuring Fall Protection When Working At Heights. Stan Liang, CIH, CSP, CET KTA-Tator, Inc. Brief overview of the following: When fall protection is required Approaches for controlling fall hazards Proper usage of fall protection OSHA fall protection requirements

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Assuring fall protection when working at heights l.jpg
Assuring Fall Protection When Working At Heights

Stan Liang, CIH, CSP, CET

KTA-Tator, Inc.

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Brief overview of the following:

When fall protection is required

Approaches for controlling fall hazards

Proper usage of fall protection

OSHA fall protection requirements

Resources for additional information

Webinar Objectives

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Fall Hazards in the Workplace

  • Third most common cause of fatalities

  • Virtually all fatalities are preventable, according to an OSHA study

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Fall Protection

  • Even brief exposures to fall hazards not permitted by OSHA

  • 100% fall protection policies are necessary

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Causes of Falls

  • Personal factors (i.e., lack of concentration, illness)

  • Environmental factors (i.e., poor lighting, slippery surfaces, weather)

  • Poor housekeeping

  • Poor planning

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Fall Protection /Fall Prevention Systems

  • Plan for fall protection in advance

  • Eliminate fall hazards where possible (e.g. use alternatives to personal fall arrest such as aerial lifts)

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Fall Protection /Fall Prevention Systems

  • Fall prevention

    • Guardrail systems

    • Covers for openings

  • Fall protection

    • Personal fall arrest systems

    • Safety nets

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Regulation Overview

  • 29 CFR 1926

  • Subpart M - Fall Protection

  • 1926.500 - 1926.503

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Subpart M

  • 1926.500 - Scope, application, and definitions

  • 1926.501 - Duty to have fall protection

  • 1926.502 - Fall protection systems criteria and practices

  • 1926.503 - Training requirements

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Subpart MAppendices

Appendix A – Determining Roof Widths

Appendix B – Guardrail Systems

Appendix C – Personal Fall Arrest

Appendix D – Positioning Devices

Appendix E – Sample Fall Protection Plan

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1926.500 Scope and Application

  • Subpart M outlines the requirements and criteria for fall protection in all construction work places covered under 29 CFR 1926.

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1926.501 Duty to Have Fall Protection

  • Requirements for employers to provide fall protection

  • Applies to unprotected side or edge six (6) feet or more above a lower level

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Protection from Falling Objects

  • When an employee is exposed to falling objects, the employer must require workers to wear hard hats and implement one of the following:

    • Install toe boards, screens, or guardrail systems; or

    • Install a canopy structure; or

    • Install barricades and keep employees from entering the barricaded area

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1926.502 General Requirements

  • Provide and install all fall protection systems before the employee begins work that necessitates fall protection

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1926.502Guardrail Requirements

  • 42-inch height requirements (+/– 3 inches)

  • Mid rails, screens, mesh or equivalent structural member

  • Screens and mesh, if used, must extend from the top rail to the walking/working level and along the entire opening between top rail supports

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1926.502Guardrail Requirements

  • Intermediate members, if used, must not be more than 19 inches apart

  • Guardrails must withstand a force of 200 pounds on the top rail

  • Mid rails must be able to withstand a force of 150 pounds

  • Must be smooth to prevent cuts or clothing snags

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1926.502Guardrail Requirements

  • Must be at least 1/4 inch diameter (wire rope)

  • Use high visibility flagging at 6 foot intervals if wire rope guardrails are used

  • If used around accessways, offset or provide one guardrail with a gate

  • Inspect fiber rope guardrails as necessary

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1926.502 Safety Net Requirements

  • Installed as close to the work surface as possible, but in no case more than 30 feet below such level

  • Sufficient clearance under them to prevent contact with any surface or structure below

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1926.502 Safety Net Requirements

  • Safety nets must extend outward from the structure as follows:

    Distance from Horizontal

    working surface distance beyond

    to ground structure

    up to 5 feet 8 feet

    5 to 10 feet 10 feet

    over 10 feet 13 feet

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1926.502Safety Net Requirements

  • Test when installed or relocated

  • Inspect once per week

  • Remove tools and other debris as soon as possible

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1926.502Safety Net Requirements

  • Maximum mesh size shall be 36 square inches (6" on a side)

  • Connections between net panels shall not be more than 6" apart

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  • Control fall hazards via personal fall arrest, covers or guardrails.

  • Protect employees on walking/working surfaces from tripping hazards.

  • Protect employees from objects that may fall through holes.

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  • Capable of supporting twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials

  • Secured to prevent accidental displacement

  • Marked with the word “HOLE” or “COVER” or color coded

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Personal Fall Arrest Systems

  • A Personal Fall Arrest System includes:

    • Anchorage

    • Connectors (snap hooks) and D-Rings

    • Lanyard (dual lanyard for 100% fall protection)

    • Full body harness

  • Other components may include a self-retracting lifeline, vertical and horizontal lifelines, and a rope grab device

  • As of 1/1/98, the use of body belts is prohibited

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Personal Fall Arrest Systems

  • Injury is still possible when personal fall arrest is used

  • Personal fall arrest is a last resort

  • Investigate alternatives before using personal fall arrest

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General Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems

  • Must limit the maximum arresting force on a worker to 1800 pounds

  • Lanyard must be connected to D-ring on harness between the shoulder blades

  • Anchorage should be at the same level or higher than the harness D-ring height

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Personal Fall Arrest Systems

  • System must be rigged so that the employee:

    • Cannot free fall more than six (6) feet

    • Is brought to a complete stop with a minimum deceleration distance of 3.5 feet

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Personal Fall Arrest Systems

  • Ensure that adequate clearance is available when using personal fall arrest systems.

  • With a 6 foot lanyard, 18.5 feet of clearance is needed.

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Personal Fall Arrest System

  • Where there is inadequate clearance for a 6 foot lanyard:

    • Use a shorter lanyard

    • Move anchorage point higher

    • Use a retractable lifeline

    • Consider alternative to personal fall arrest systems, such as a restraint system

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Anchor Points

  • Importance of anchor point selection:

    • Strength of the entire personal fall arrest system is dependent on the strength of the connection to the anchor point

  • Anchor point criteria:

    • 5000 lb. per employee attached

    • Safety factor of at least 2

    • Not used to support other equipment

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Anchorage Points

  • Use of existing structures - most likely scenario:

    • A “qualified person” must evaluate each “make-shift” anchor point

    • In general guardrail systems or scaffold platforms should not be used as anchor points

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Anchor PointsSwing Falls

  • Keep anchor point overhead to prevent swing fall hazards

  • Pendulum like motion can result in injuries due to collision with objects

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Anchorage Points

  • Use beam clamps or other temporary connectors specifically designed for use in fall protection system.

  • Do not wrap a lanyard around the anchorage – unless designed by the manufacturer for this type of connection

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Horizontal Lifelines

  • Design must be by a qualified person (with a safety factor of at least two)

  • Multiple tie offs only if permitted by qualified person

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Vertical Lifelines

  • One person per vertical lifeline

  • Minimum breaking strength of 5,000 lbs

  • Minimum 12 feet of lifeline below lowest point of travel or extend lifeline to ground

  • Weight or tie off bottom of line

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Vertical LifelinesRope Grabs

  • Must be compatible with the lifeline

  • Installed with directional arrow pointing up

  • Should be equipped with “anti panic” feature

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  • Knots in lanyard or lifeline reduce strength 50%

  • Do not connect one or more lanyards together

  • Consider retractable, horizontal, and vertical lifelines or different anchorage when a lanyard is too short

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  • Looping a rope lanyard or lifeline around an “I” beam can reduce system strength by 70%. Use:

    • Cross arm straps

    • Web lanyard

    • Wire rope lanyard

    • Padding to avoid sharp edges

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Snaphooks and Caribiners

  • Must be locking type

  • Compatible with anchorage

  • Caribiners must be the “auto lock” type

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Harness Breakaway Clip

  • Used for attachment of unused dual lanyard snap hook.

  • Prevents “blow out” failure during a fall

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Rescue Procedures

  • Employers relying on personal fall arrest systems must have pre-planned rescue procedures or make sure workers can rescue themselves in the event of a fall.

  • The availability of rescue personnel, ladders, or other equipment should be considered.

  • Use the buddy system.

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  • Prior to each use, check equipment for:

    Cuts Deterioration

    Tears Contact with fire or corrosives

    Abrasions Distorted parts

    Mold Loose or damaged mountings

    Stretching Non-functioning parts

    Alterations Fading

    Rotting Deterioration

    Wear Visible reduction in rope diameter

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  • Do not use equipment previously used to arrest a fall.

  • Discard fall protection heavily contaminated with paint or other chemicals.

  • Do not mix equipment from different manufacturers.

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Cleaning Fall Protection

  • Wash harnesses and lanyards with warm soapy water followed by fresh water rinse

  • Do not use industrial solvents on synthetic material

  • Do not oil parts unless directed by manufacturer

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Fall Protection Storage

  • Keep synthetic materials away from direct sunlight

  • Store in a cool, dry place

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Positioning Devices

  • Positioning devices must meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.502, paragraph (e).

  • Requirements include anchorage strength, maximum free fall permitted, and equipment inspections.

  • Applies to restraint systems

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Roofing Work on Low-Slope Roofs

  • Options for fall protection include:

    • Guardrail systems

    • Personal fall arrest

    • Safety nets

    • Guardrail/warning line systems

    • Warning line/safety net

    • Warning line/personal fall arrest

    • Warning line/safety monitor

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Wall Openings

  • Fall protection is required under the following conditions:

    • Outside bottom edge is more than 6 feet above a lower level; and

    • Inside bottom edge of the wall opening is less than 39 inches above the walking/working surface

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Wall Openings

  • Options for fall protection include:

    • Guardrails

    • Safety nets

    • Personal fall arrest

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Additional Fall Hazards Regulated by OSHA

  • Hoist areas – guard rails and personal fall arrest

  • Formwork and reinforcing steel – personal fall arrest, positioning device systems

  • Excavations – guard rails (when excavation can not be readily seen)

  • Dangerous equipment - guard rails or equipment guards

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Additional Fall Hazards Regulated by OSHA (cont.)

  • Leading edges – guard rails, safety nets, personal fall arrest

  • Steep roofs – guard rails, safety nets, personal fall arrest

  • Residential construction – guard rails, personal fall arrest, or safety nets

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1926.503 Training Requirements

  • Fall hazards in the work area

  • Erecting, assembling and maintaining fall protection

  • Use and operation of fall protection equipment

  • Handling and storage of materials and the erection of overhead protection

  • Requirements of the standard

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Ladder Safety

  • Fall prevention systems (e.g. ladder climbing devices) are only required for fixed ladders.

  • Fixed ladders must have fall protection when the height exceeds 24 feet.

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Fixed Ladder Fall Protection Options

  • Ladder climbing safety device

  • Self retracting lifeline

  • Cage

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Fixed Ladder Cages

  • Rest platforms required at 50 foot intervals

  • Prevents falls due to exhaustion

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OSHA Scaffold StandardFall Protection Requirements

  • Fall protection is required when employees are more than 10 feet above a lower level.

  • Fall protection is required for erection or dismantling of scaffolds, if the competent person determines it is feasible.

  • Temporary containment platforms are regulated by OSHA as scaffolds

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Major OSHA Requirements for Aerial Lifts

  • Fall protection worn and anchored to boom or basket

  • Stand firmly on the floor of the basket

  • Fall protection can not be connected to adjacent pole, structure, or equipment

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Additional Information


  • 29 CFR 1926 Subpart L (Scaffolds)

  • 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M (Fall Protection)

  • 29 CFR Subpart X (Ladders and Stairways)

  • OSHA compliance directives (Scaffolds CPL 2-1.23) and letters of interpretation

  • Equipment manufacturers

  • Health and safety professionals