Course 114 Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection

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Protection Against Falls

General Requirements

The employer must provide and install all fall protection systems and falling object protection before any employee begins work that necessitates fall or falling object protection.

Unprotected Sides and Edges

The employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by one or more of the following:

  • guardrail systems;
  • safety net systems; or
  • personal fall protection systems, such as personal fall arrest, travel restraint, or positioning systems.

When the employer can demonstrate it is not feasible or creates a greater hazard to use guardrail, safety net, or personal fall protection systems on residential roofs, the employer must develop and implement a fall protection plan and training.

When the employer can demonstrate the use of fall protection systems is not feasible on the working side of a platform used at a loading rack, loading dock, or teeming platform, the work may be done without a fall protection system, if:

  • The work operation for which fall protection is infeasible is in process;
  • Access to the platform is limited to authorized employees; and,
  • The authorized employees are trained in accordance with IOSHA Standard 1910.30.

Hoist Areas

The employer must ensure:

Each employee in a hoist area is protected from falling 4 feet (1.2 m) or more to a lower level by:

  • A guardrail system;
  • A personal fall arrest system; or
  • A travel restraint system.

When any portion of a guardrail system, gate, or chains is removed, and an employee must lean through or over the edge of the access opening to facilitate hoisting, the employee should be protected from falling by a personal fall arrest system.

If grab handles are installed at hoist areas, they must meet the requirements of OSHA Standard 1910.29(l).

1. The general industry employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is _____ or more above a lower level is protected.

a. 2 feet (0.6 m)
b. 4 feet (1.2 m)
c. 6 feet (1.8 m)
d. 10 feet (3 m)

Holes

Floorhole - CPWR Photo</a>
This might happen if you don't guard or cover holes.

The employer must ensure each employee is protected from falling through any hole (including skylights) that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level by one or more of the following:

  • Covers;
  • guardrail systems;
  • travel restraint systems; or
  • personal fall arrest systems.

Each employee must be protected from tripping into or stepping into or through any hole that is less than 4 feet (1.2 m) above a lower level by covers or guardrail systems.

Each employee must protected from falling into a stairway floor hole by a fixed guardrail system on all exposed sides, except at the stairway entrance. However, for any stairway used less than once per day where traffic across the stairway floor hole prevents the use of a fixed guardrail system the employer may protect employees from falling into the hole by using a hinged floor hole cover that meets the criteria in OSHA Standard 1910.29 and a removable guardrail system on all exposed sides, except at the entrance to the stairway.

Each employee must be protected from falling into a ladderway floor hole or ladderway platform hole by a guardrail system and toeboards erected on all exposed sides, except at the entrance to the hole, where a self-closing gate or an offset must be used.

Each employee is protected from falling through a hatchway and chutefloor hole by:

  • A hinged floor-hole cover and a fixed guardrail system that leaves only one exposed side. When the hole is not in use, the employer must ensure the cover is closed or a removable guardrail system is provided on the exposed sides;
  • A removable guardrail system and toeboards on not more than two sides of the hole and a fixed guardrail system on all other exposed sides. The employer must ensure the removable guardrail system is kept in place when the hole is not in use; or
  • A guardrail system or a travel restraint system when a work operation necessitates passing material through a hatchway or chute floor hole.

2. Employees must be protected from tripping into or stepping into or through any hole that is _____ above a lower level by covers, guardrail systems, travel restraint systems, or personal fall arrest systems.

a. more than 10 feet (3 m)
b. less than 10 feet (3 m)
c. more than 6 feet (1.8 m)
d. more than 4 feet (1.2 m)

Runways and Similar Walkways

Ramp - Military Photo</a>
Not quite 4 feet above the ground. Guard rails not required.

The employer must ensure each employee on a runway or similar walkway is protected from falling 4 feet (1.2 m) or more to a lower level by a guardrail system. When the employer can demonstrate that it is not feasible to have guardrails on both sides of a runway used exclusively for a special purpose, the employer may omit the guardrail on one side of the runway, provided the employer ensures:

  • The runway is at least 18 inches (46 cm) wide; and
  • Each employee is provided with and uses a personal fall arrest system or travel restraint system.

Openings

The employer must ensure each employee on a walking-working surface near an opening where the inside bottom edge of the opening is less than 39 inches (99 cm) above that walking-working surface and the outside bottom edge of the opening is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by the use of:

Ramp - Military Photo</a>
Guardrails used for wall openings.
  • Guardrail systems;
  • safety net systems;
  • travel restraint systems; or,
  • personal fall arrest systems.

Dangerous Equipment

Employees must be protected from falling into dangerous equipment while working at any height.

Work under 4 feet: The employer must ensure that each employee less than 4 feet (1.2 m) above dangerous equipment is protected from falling into or onto the dangerous equipment by a guardrail system or a travel restraint system, unless the equipment is covered or guarded to eliminate the hazard.

Work at 4 feet or more: Each employee 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above dangerous equipment must be protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

3. When must an employee be protected from falling while working above dangerous equipment?

a. When working above 4 feet (1.2 m) above the equipment
b. When working less than 4 feet (1.2 m) above the equipment
c. When working at any height above the equipment
d. When working at the same level as the equipment

Repair, Service, and Assembly Pits Less Than 10 Feet Deep

Copyright:auremar / 123RF Stock Photo
Mechanics working in a vehicle service pit.

The use of a fall protection system is not required for a repair pit, service pit, or assembly pit that is less than 10 feet (3 m) deep, provided the employer:

  • Limits access within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the edge of the pit to authorized employees trained in accordance with OSHA Standard 1910.30;
  • Applies floor markings at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from the edge of the pit in colors that contrast with the surrounding area; or places a warning line at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from the edge of the pit as well as stanchions that are capable of resisting, without tipping over, a force of at least 16 pounds (71 N) applied horizontally against the stanchion at a height of 30 inches (76 cm); or places a combination of floor markings and warning lines at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from the edge of the pit. When two or more pits in a common area are not more than 15 feet (4.5m) apart, the employer may comply by placing contrasting floor markings at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from the pit edge around the entire area of the pits; and
  • Posts readily visible caution signs that meet the requirements of OSHA Standard 1910.145, Specifications for accident prevention signs and tags, and state "Caution-Open Pit."

Fixed Ladders

123RF Stock Photo 25316702_s
Fixed ladder with cage.

For fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet (7.3 m) above a lower level, the employer must ensure:

  • Existing fixed ladders: Each fixed ladder installed before November 19, 2018 is equipped with a personal fall arrest system, ladder safety system, cage, or well;
  • New fixed ladders: Each fixed ladder installed on and after November 19, 2018, is equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system;
  • Replacement:" When a fixed ladder, cage, or well, or any portion of a section thereof, is replaced, a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system is installed in at least that section of the fixed ladder, cage, or well where the replacement is located; and
  • Final deadline: On and after November 18, 2036, all fixed ladders are equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system. Example: Ladder Vertical Lifeline System.

When a one-section fixed ladder is equipped with a personal fall protection or a ladder safety system or a fixed ladder is equipped with a personal fall arrest or ladder safety system on more than one section, the employer must ensure:

  • The personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system provides protection throughout the entire vertical distance of the ladder, including all ladder sections; and
  • The ladder has rest platforms provided at maximum intervals of 150 feet (45.7 m).

The employer must ensure ladder sections having a cage or well if:

  • Are offset from adjacent sections; and
  • Have landing platforms provided at maximum intervals of 50 feet (15.2 m).
    • The employer may use a cage or well in combination with a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system provided that the cage or well does not interfere with the operation of the system.

4. Each fixed ladder installed on and after November 19, 2018, must be equipped with a _____.

a. horizontal hand holds for resting
b. highly visible warning light every 10 feet
c. personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system
d. ladder safety system, cage or well

Scaffolds and Rope Descent Systems

The employer must ensure the following:

OSHA photo - Public Domain
Workers above 4 feet above lower levels must be protected from falling.
  • Each employee on a scaffold is protected from falling in accordance 29 CFR part 1926, subpart L; and
  • Each employee using a rope descent system 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by a personal fall arrest system. Note: OSHA's construction standard 1926.501, Fall Protection, sets a threshold height of 6 feet and greater for worker exposures that demand fall-protection.

Work on Low-Slope Roofs

The following information involves roofs with slope of 3:12 (14 degrees) or less.

  • When work is performed less than 6 feet (1.6 m) from the roof edge, the employer must ensure each employee is protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest system.
  • When work is performed at least 6 feet (1.6 m) but less than 15 feet (4.6 m) from the roof edge, the employer must ensure each employee is protected from falling by using a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest system. The employer may use a designated area when performing work that is both infrequent and temporary.
  • When work is performed 15 feet (4.6 m) or more from the roof edge, the employer must:
    • Protect each employee from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest system or a designated area. The employer is not required to provide any fall protection, provided the work is both infrequent and temporary; and
    • Implement and enforce a work rule prohibiting employees from going within 15 feet (4.6 m) of the roof edge without using fall protection.

5. When work is performed less than 6 feet (1.6 m) from the roof edge, the employer may ensure each employee is protected from falling with each of the following methods, EXCEPT _____.

a. personal fall arrest systems
b. travel restraint systems
c. guardrail systems
d. designated areas

Designated Areas

When the employer uses a designated area, the employer must ensure:

  • Employees remain within the designated area while work operations are underway; and
  • The perimeter of the designated area is delineated with a warning line consisting of a rope, wire, tape, or chain that meets the requirements of this section.

Each warning line must have a minimum breaking strength of 200 pounds (0.89 kN). The lowest point of the line must not be less than 34 inches (86 cm) and not more than 39 inches (99 cm) above the walking-working surface. The warning line must be erected not less than:

  • 6 feet (1.8 m) from the roof edge for work that is both temporary and infrequent,
  • Floor hole Copyright: GSG photo
    Covering and securing a roof hole.
  • 10 feet (3 m) from the perpendicular unprotected edge from mobile mechanical equipment, or
  • 15 feet (4.6 m) for other work.

The warning line must be clearly visible from a distance of 25 feet (7.6 m) away, and anywhere within the designated area.

Covers

The employer must ensure each cover for a hole in a walking-working surface:

  • Is capable of supporting without failure, at least twice the maximum intended load that may be imposed on the cover at any one time; and
  • Is secured to prevent accidental displacement.

6. How far from a perpendicular unprotected edge must you place a warning line when operating mobile mechanical equipment?

a. Not less than 15 feet
b. Not less than 10 feet
c. At least 15 feet
d. At least 6 feet

Fall Protection Systems

General Requirements

The employer must provide and install all fall protection systems and falling object protection before any employee begins work that necessitates fall or falling object protection.

Guardrail Systems

D-11 Guard Rail Systems - OSHA Photo
Guard Rail Systems

The employer must ensure guardrail systems meet the following requirements:

  • Top rails: The top edge height of top rails must be 42 inches (107 cm), plus or minus 3 inches (8 cm), above the walking-working surface.
  • Midrails: Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, solid panels, or equivalent intermediate members must be installed between the walking-working surface and the top edge of the guardrail system as follows when there is not a wall or parapet that is at least 21 inches (53 cm) high:
    • Midrails are installed at a height midway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking-working surface;
    • Screens and mesh extend from the walking-working surface to the top rail and along the entire opening between top rail supports;
    • Intermediate vertical members (such as balusters) are installed no more than 19 inches (48 cm) apart; and
    • Other equivalent intermediate members (such as additional midrails and architectural panels) are installed so that the openings are not more than 19 inches (48 cm) wide.
  • Guardrail systems must be able to withstand an outward or downward force of at least 200 pounds.
  • Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, solid panels, etc., must be able to withstand an outward or downward force of at least 150 pounds.
  • The ends of top rails and midrails must not overhang the terminal posts if they pose a projection hazard.
  • Steel banding and plastic banding must not be used for top rails or midrails.
  • Top rails and midrails must be at least 0.25-inches (0.6 cm) in diameter or in thickness.
  • When guardrail systems are used at hoist areas, a removable guardrail section must be placed across the access opening when employees are not performing hoisting operations.
  • When guardrail systems are used around holes, they must installed on all unprotected sides or edges of the hole.
  • When materials are passed through holes, at least two sides of the hole must be protected by guardrails.
  • When guardrail systems are used around holes that serve as points of access (such as ladderways), the guardrail system opening must have a self-closing gate or be offset to prevent an employee from walking into the hole.

Note: The criteria and practices requirements for guardrail systems on scaffolds are contained in 29 CFR part 1926, subpart L.

Safety Net Systems

The employer must ensure each safety net system meets the requirements in 29 CFR part 1926, subpart M.

7. The top edge height of top rails must be _____, above the walking-working surface.

a. between 43 inches and 45 inches
b. 42 inches, plus or minus 3 inches
c. at least 39 inches
d. no higher than 46 inches

Stairways

The employer must ensure the following:

  • Each employee exposed to an unprotected side or edge of a stairway landing that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected by a guardrail or stair rail system;
  • Each ship stairs and alternating tread type stairs is equipped with handrails on both sides; and
  • Each flight of stairs having at least 3 treads and at least 4 risers is equipped with stair rail systems and handrails according to the table below:
Stair width Enclosed One open side Two open sides With earth built up on both sides
Less than 44 inches (1.1 m) At least one handrail One stair rail system with handrail on open side One stair rail system each open side  
44 inches (1.1 m) to 88 inches (2.2 m) One handrail on each enclosed side One Stair rail system with handrail on open side and one handrail on enclosed side One stair rail system with handrail on each open side  
Greater than 88 inches (2.2 m). One handrail on each enclosed side and one intermediate handrail located in the middle of the stair One stair rail system with handrail on open side, one handrail on enclosed side, and one intermediate handrail located in the middle of the stair One stair rail system with handrail on each open side and one intermediate handrail located in the middle of the stair  
Exterior stairs less than 44 inches (1.1 m).       One handrail on least one side
Note to table: The width of the stair must be clear of all obstructions except handrails

8. Each employee exposed to an unprotected side or edge of a stairway landing that _____ is protected by a guardrail or stair rail system.

a. is 6 feet (1.8) or greater above a lower level
b. has 3 treads and less than 4 risers
c. is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level
d. has at least 4 treads and 6 risers

Handrails and Stair Rail Systems

D-12 Handrail Measurement - OSHA Photo
Handrail Measurement

A handrail is a horizontal or sloping rail intended for grasping by the hand for guidance or support. A stair rail is a guard along the open side or sides of a stairway.

The employer must ensure:

    Height criteria

    • Handrails are not less than 30 inches (76 cm) and not more than 38 inches (97 cm), as measured from the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the handrail (see Figure D-12).
    • The height of stair rail systems meets the following:
      • The height of stair rail systems installed before January 17, 2017 is not less than 30 inches (76 cm) from the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the top rail; and
      • D-13 Combination Handrail and Stair Rail - OSHA Photo
        D-13. Combination Handrail and Stair Rail.
      • The height of stair rail systems installed on or after January 17, 2017 is not less than 42 inches (107 cm) from the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the top rail.

The top rail of a stair rail system may serve as a handrail only when:

  • The height of the stair rail system is not less than 36 inches (91 cm) and not more than 38 inches (97 cm) as measured at the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the top rail (see Figure D-13); and
  • The top rail of the stair rail system meets the other handrail requirements above.

9. What is the minimum height of stair rail systems installed on or after January 17, 2017?

a. 30 inches
b. 36 inches
c. 39 inches
d. 42 inches
D-15 General Cage Construction - OSHA Photo
D-15. Example of General Construction of Cages.

Cages, Wells, and Platforms Used With Fixed Ladders

The employer must ensure:

  • Cages and wells installed on fixed ladders are designed, constructed, and maintained to permit easy access to, and egress from, the ladder that they enclose (see and D-15);
  • Cages and wells are continuous throughout the length of the fixed ladder, except for access, egress, and other transfer points;
  • Cages and wells are designed, constructed, and maintained to contain employees in the event of a fall, and to direct them to a lower landing; and
  • Platforms used with fixed ladders provide a horizontal surface of at least 24 inches by 30 inches (61 cm by 76 cm).
Thinkstock Photo 87474685
Worker painting over billboard. Note guardrail system and fall protection.

Outdoor Advertising

This section applies only to employers engaged in outdoor advertising operations. Employers must ensure that each employee who climbs a fixed ladder without fall protection:

  • Is physically capable, as demonstrated through observations of actual climbing activities or by a physical examination, to perform the duties that may be assigned, including climbing fixed ladders without fall protection;
  • Has successfully completed a training or apprenticeship program that includes hands-on training on the safe climbing of ladders and is retrained as necessary to maintain the necessary skills;
  • Has the skill to climb ladders safely, as demonstrated through formal classroom training or on-the-job training, and performance observation; and
  • Performs climbing duties as a part of routine work activity.

10. Fixed ladder cages and wells are designed, constructed, and maintained _____.

a. to contain employees in the event of a fall
b. to provide a resting area during the climb
c. to hold at least two climbers simultaneously
d. to provide hands-free vertical movement

Fixed Ladder Safety Systems

The employer must ensure:

141121-F-BD983-018.JPG Mil Photo
Employee using a ladder safety system in addition to a cage.
  • Each ladder safety system allows the employee to climb up and down using both hands and does not require that the employee continuously hold, push, or pull any part of the system while climbing;
  • The connection between the carrier or lifeline and the point of attachment to the body harness or belt does not exceed 9 inches (23 cm);
  • Mountings for rigid carriers are attached at each end of the carrier, with intermediate mountings spaced, as necessary, along the entire length of the carrier so the system has the strength to stop employee falls;
  • Mountings for flexible carriers are attached at each end of the carrier and cable guides for flexible carriers are installed at least 25 feet (7.6 m) apart but not more than 40 feet (12.2 m) apart along the entire length of the carrier;
  • The design and installation of mountings and cable guides does not reduce the design strength of the ladder; and
  • Ladder safety systems and their support systems are capable of withstanding, without failure, a drop test consisting of an 18-inch (41-cm) drop of a 500-pound (227-kg) weight.

Personal Fall Protection Systems

Body belts, harnesses, and other components used in personal fall arrest systems, work positioning systems, and travel restraint systems must meet the requirements of OSHA Standard 1910.140, Personal fall protection systems.

11. Each ladder safety system should allow the employee _____.

a. continuously hold, push, or pull on the system as needed
b. to drop no more than 12 inches
c. to climb up and down using both hands
d. extend the connection length to 18 inches
Image shift change OROSHA photo</a>
Note the 2x4" wood toeboards to protect from falling objects.

Protection From Falling Objects

The employers must ensure toeboards used for falling object protection:

  • Are erected along the exposed edge of the overhead walking-working surface for a length that is sufficient to protect employees below.
  • Have a minimum vertical height of 3.5 inches (9 cm) as measured from the top edge of the toeboard to the level of the walking-working surface. Two-by-four inch lumber meets this requirement.
  • Do not have more than a 0.25-inch (0.5-cm) clearance or opening above the walking-working surface.
  • Are solid or do not have any opening that exceeds 1 inch (3 cm) at its greatest dimension.
  • Have a minimum height of 2.5 inches (6 cm) when used around vehicle repair, service, or assembly pits. Toeboards may be omitted around vehicle repair, service, or assembly pits when the employer can demonstrate that a toeboard would prevent access to a vehicle that is over the pit.
  • Are capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 50 pounds (222 N) applied in any downward or outward direction at any point along the toeboard.
  • Where tools, equipment, or materials are piled higher than the top of the toeboard, paneling or screening is installed from the toeboard to the midrail of the guardrail system and for a length that is sufficient to protect employees below. If the items are piled higher than the midrail, the employer also must install paneling or screening to the top rail and for a length that is sufficient to protect employees below; and
  • All openings in guardrail systems are small enough to prevent objects from falling through the opening.
  • The employer must ensure canopies used for falling object protection are strong enough to prevent collapse and to prevent penetration by falling objects.

Grab Handles

The employer must ensure each grab handle:

  • Is not less than 12 inches (30 cm) long;
  • Is mounted to provide at least 3 inches (8 cm) of clearance from the framing or opening; and
  • Is capable of withstanding a maximum horizontal pull-out force equal to two times the maximum intended load or 200 pounds (890 N), whichever is greater.

12. What must the minimum vertical height of scaffold toeboard be to prevent objects from falling off the scaffold?

a. 2 inches
b. 3.5 inches
c. 5 inches
d. 2.5 inches

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