The purpose of the Fall Protection Program is to ensure that affected employees can identify and control fall hazards in order to protect themselves against those hazards. This is accomplished by establishing guidelines and requirements that university supervisors and employees must uphold. There are various hazards associated with fall protection, and this program has been developed to assist in mitigating those hazards.
Safety and Risk Management
Safety and Risk Management has the primary responsibility for the implementation and enforcement of the Fall Protection Program (FPP) and is responsible for the following:
Supervisors in support and administrative areas are responsible for providing the necessary direction and support to ensure the effective implementation of the Fall Protection Program for their work areas. Supervisors are responsible for the following:
Affected employees are responsible for the following:
Contractors performing work on state property shall follow all OSHA guidelines for fall protection as applicable in 29 CFR 1926.500.
General Industry (1910)
All employees will be protected from falling when working on a surface that has an unprotected side, edge, etc. or elevated work platforms at a height of 4 feet or more above an adjacent lower level.
OSHA 29 CFR 1910 – General Industry Standards
Construction Industry (1926)
All employees preforming construction type activities will be protected from falling from a surface 6 feet or more above a lower level. Scaffolds used during construction type activity requires fall protection to be used at 10 feet or more above a lower level.
OSHA 29 CFR 1926 – Construction Standards
In each of these requirements, the fall hazards must be evaluated to determine the preferable method to protect the employee. When considering what type of fall protection to use, the following solutions should be considered:
The following are identified general industry fall hazards:
Loading docks and other open sided floors greater than 4 feet above the ground must be protected. The approved method of protection is the installation of a standard guardrail system. The guardrail may have removable sections to provide access for loading but rails must remain in place when access is not required.
Floor and Wall Openings and Holes
For stairway openings, standard railings shall be provided on all exposed sides except at the stairway entrance. Where an employee can accidentally walk into a floor hole opening measuring 12 inches but more than 1 inch in its least dimension, shall be guarded by either a standard railing with toe board, or a floor hole cover of strength and construction to support required load. A wall opening of 4 feet or more above an adjacent surface shall be guarded.
Open Sided Floors or Platforms
An open sided floor or platform or a runway that is 4 feet or more above the ground level or above the adjacent floor shall be guarded by a standard railing on all open sides except for the entrance (to a ramp, stairway, or ladder). If equipment or materials could fall and create a hazard, then the railing system must include a toe board on each side.
Skylights are considered an opening when present on a roof. A standard guardrail or skylight screen capable of supporting at least 200 pounds must be provided around the opening to prevent employees from falling through to the surface below.
Open Pits, Tanks, or Spillways
Protect employees from hazards of open pits, tanks, and spillways by using covers and/or guardrails.
The following are identified construction industry fall hazards:
Aerial Lifts and Self-Powered Work Platforms
Body harnesses must be worn with a lanyard, not to exceed 3 feet in length, or a self-retracting lifeline when working from all elevated mobile work platforms. The point of attachment must be the anchor point of installation and designated by the equipment manufacturer.
Scissor lifts and telescoping lifts that can only move vertically do not require the use of a harness and lanyard as long as the work platform is protected by a proper guardrail system and occupants do not stand on or above guardrail system.
An employee cannot move an aerial lift while the boom is in an elevated working position and the operator is inside of the lift platform.
Covers located in roadways and vehicular aisles shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the maximum axle load of the largest vehicle expected to cross over the cover.
All other covers shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.
All covers shall be secured when installed so as to prevent accidental displacement by the wind, equipment, or employees.
Each employee less than 6 feet above dangerous equipment shall be protected from falling into or onto the dangerous equipment by guardrail systems or by equipment guards.
Each employee 6 feet or more above dangerous equipment shall be protected from fall hazards by guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, or safety net systems.
Each employee at the edge of an excavation 6 feet or more in depth shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, fences, or barricades when the excavations are not readily seen because of plant growth or other visual barrier. Each employee at the edge of a well, pit, shaft, and similar excavation 6 feet or more in depth shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, fences, barricades, or covers.
Each employee on walking/working surfaces shall be protected from falling through holes (including skylights) more than 6 feet above lower levels by personal fall arrest systems, covers, or guardrail systems erected around these areas.
Each employee on a walking/working surface shall be protected from tripping in or stepping into or through holes (including skylights) by placing covers over the holes.
Each employee on a walking/working surface shall be protected from objects falling through holes (including skylights) by placing covers over the holes.
Each employee who is constructing a leading edge 6 feet or more above levels shall be protected from falling by guardrails systems, safety net systems, or fall arrest systems.
Exception: when the supervisor can demonstrate that it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard to use these systems, the supervisor shall develop and implement a fall protection plan which meets the requirements of OSHA 1926.502 (k).
Each employee on a walking/working surface 6 feet or more above a lower level where leading edges are under construction, but who is not engaged in the leading edge work, shall be protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system.
Protection from Falling Objects
When an employee is exposed to falling objects, the supervisor shall have each employee wear a hard hat and shall implement one of the following measures:
Roofing Work or Low-Slope Roofs
Each employee engaged in roofing activities on low-slope roofs, with unprotected sides and edges 6 feet or more above lower levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, or a combination of warning line system and guardrail system, warning line system and safety net system, or warning line system and personal fall arrest system, or warning line system and safety monitoring system. Or, on roofs 50 feet or less in width the use of a safety monitoring system alone is permitted.
Each employee on a steep roof with unprotected sides and edges 6 feet or more above lower levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems with toe boards, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
Unprotected Sides and Edges
Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
Each employee working on, at, above, or near wall openings (including those with chutes attached) where the outside bottom edge of the wall opening is 6 feet or more above lower levels and the inside bottom edge of the wall opening is less than 39 inches above the walking/working surface, shall be protected from falling by the use of a guardrail system, a safety net system, or a personal fall arrest system.
One of the following systems shall be in place whenever an employee is exposed to a fall hazard:
The use of guardrail systems is considered a passive method of fall protection and is actually the preferred method for eliminating fall hazards.
Guardrails are needed at the edge of work areas 6 feet or more in height to protect employees from falling. This includes the edge of excavations greater than six feet in depth. Guardrail systems need to meet the following criteria:
Safety nets shall be installed as close as practical under the walking/working surface on which employees are working, but in no case more than 30 feet (9.1 m) below such level. When nets are used on bridges, the potential fall area from the walking/working surface to the net shall be unobstructed.
Safety nets shall extend outward from the outermost projection of the work surface as follows:
Vertical Distance from Working Level to Horizontal Plane of Net
Minimum Required Horizontal Distance of Outer Edge of Net from the Edge of the Working Surface
Up to 5 feet (1.5 meters)
More than 5 feet up to 10 feet (3 meters)
More than 10 feet (3 meters)
8 feet (2.4 meters)
10 feet (3 meters)
13 feet (3.9 meters)
Safety nets shall be installed with sufficient clearance under them to prevent contact with the surface or structures below when subjected to an impact force equal to the drop test of this section.
Safety nets and their installations shall be capable of absorbing an impact force equal to that produced by the drop test specified in this section.
Safety nets and safety net installations shall be drop-tested at the jobsite after initial installation and before being used as a fall protection system, whenever relocated, after major repair, and at six month intervals if left in one place. The drop-test shall consist of a 400-pound bag of sand dropped into the net from the highest walking/working surface at which employees are exposed to fall hazards, but not from less than 42 inches above that level.
A drop test is not needed when: The supervisor can demonstrate that it is unreasonable to perform the drop-test required by this section, the supervisor (or a designated competent person) shall certify that the net and net installation is in compliance with the provisions of this section by preparing a certification record prior to the net being used as a fall protection system.
Safety nets shall be:
Materials, scrap pieces, equipment, and tools which have fallen into the safety net shall be removed as soon as possible from the net and at least before the next work shift.
The maximum size of each safety net mesh opening shall not exceed thirty-six (36) square inches nor be longer than 6 inches on any side, and the opening, measured center-to-center of mesh ropes or webbing, shall not be longer than 6 inches. All mesh crossings shall be secured to prevent enlargement of the mesh opening.
Each safety net (or section of it) shall have a border rope for webbing with a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds.
Connections between safety net panels shall be as strong as integral net components and shall be spaced not more than 6 inches apart.
Personal Fall Arrest Systems
When an employee is requiring the use of personal fall protection equipment they shall employ another employee to render assistance when and if required.
There are three main components to the personal fall arrest system. This includes the personal protective equipment the employee wears, the connecting devices, and the anchorage point. Prior to tying off to perform the work a means of rescue in the event of a fall must be immediately available. All personal fall arrest system components must meet the requirements of the ANSI Z359 Standards.
The system needs to meet the following criteria for each component:
Personal Protective Equipment
This device can be a rope or web lanyard, rope grab or retractable lifeline.
Secure anchor points are the most critical component when employees must use fall arrest equipment. Campus buildings may have existing structures (e.g., steel beams that may meet the criteria for a secure anchor point). Other work locations and assignments may require the installation of a temporary or permanent anchor. As a minimum, the following criteria must be considered for each type of anchor point:
Permanent Anchor Requirements
In addition to all the criteria listed above, the following points must be considered:
Reusable Temporary Anchors
Warning Line System
The warning line shall be erected around all sides of the roof work area.
When mechanical equipment is not being used, the warning line shall be erected not less than 6 feet from the roof edge.
When mechanical equipment is being used, the warning line shall be erected not less than 6 feet from the roof edge which is parallel to the direction of mechanical equipment operation, and not less than 10 feet from the roof edge which is perpendicular to the direction of mechanical equipment operation.
Points of access, materials handling areas, storage areas, and hoisting areas shall be connected to the work area by an access path formed by two warning lines.
When the path to a point of access is not in use, a rope, wire, chain, or other barricade, equivalent in strength and height to the warning line, shall be placed across the path at the point where the path intersects the warning line erected around the work area, or the path shall be offset such that a person cannot walk directly into the work area.
Warning lines shall consist of ropes, wires, or chains, and supporting stanchions erected as follows:
No employee shall be allowed in the area between a roof edge and a warning line unless the employee is performing roofing work in that area.
Mechanical equipment on roofs shall be used or stored only in areas where employees are protected by a warning line system, guardrail system, or personal fall arrest system.
The employee shall inspect the entire personal fall arrest system prior to every use. The competent person will inspect the entire system in use at the initial installation and weekly thereafter. The visual inspection of a personal fall arrest system shall follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Any components of a personal fall arrest system noted to be damaged shall be removed from service immediately.
Inspect the entire surface of webbing for damage. Beginning at one end, bend the webbing in an inverted “U”. Holding the body side of the belt toward you, grasp the belt with your hands six to eight inches apart. This surface tension makes the damaged fibers or cuts easier to see. Watch for frayed edges, broken fibers, pulled stitches, cuts, burns, and chemical damage.
“D” Rings/Back Pads
Check “D” rings for distortion, cracks, breaks, and rough or sharp edges. The “D” ring should pivot freely. “D” ring back pads should also be inspected for damage.
Attachment of Buckles
Note any unusual wear, frayed or cut fiber, or distortion of the buckles.
The tongue receives heavy wear from repeated buckling and unbuckling. Inspect for loose, distorted or broken grommets. The webbing should not have any additional punched holes.
Buckle tongues should be free of distortion in shape and motion. They should overlap the buckle frame and move freely back and forth in their socket. The roller should turn freely on the frame. Check for distortion or sharp edges.
Friction and Mating Buckles
Inspect the buckle for distortion. The outer bars and center bars must be straight. Pay special attention to corners and attachment points of the center bar.
Lanyard Inspection Hardware
While bending the webbing over a curved surface such as a pipe, observe each side of the webbed lanyard. This will reveal any cuts or breaks. Examine the webbing for swelling, discoloration, cracks, or burns. Observe closely for any breaks in the stitching.
Rotation of the rope lanyard while inspecting from end to end will bring to light any fuzzy, worn, broken or cut fibers. Weakened areas from extreme loads will appear as a noticeable change from the original diameter. The rope diameter should be uniform throughout, following a short break-in period. Make sure the rope has no knots tied in it. Knots can reduce the strength of the rope by up to 60%.
Shock-absorbing lanyards should be examined as a web lanyard. However, also look for signs of deployment. If the lanyard shows signs of having been put under load (e.g. torn out stitching), remove it from service.
Fall protection equipment must be appropriately stored to prevent damage or aging of material.
All ladders in use by employees will meet the following requirements:
Each employee who may be exposed to fall hazards must be trained to recognize the hazards and the procedures to follow to minimize the hazards. Training should consist of the following: