Lifesaving Equipment (Continued)
Personal Fall-Restraint Systems
The anchorage for a fall-restraint system must support at least 3,000 pounds or be designed and installed with a safety factor of at least two. If you are not sure how much an anchorage
will support, have a qualified person evaluate it.
Positioning systems, or work-positioning system, make it easier to work with both hands free on a vertical surface such as a wall or concrete form.
A positioning system provides support and must stop a free fall within 2 feet; a personal fall-arrest system provides no support and must limit free-fall distance to 6 feet.
A positioning-device system with a self-retracting lifeline.
Like PFASs, positioning systems have three basic "ABC" components:
- Anchorage: Positioning-device systems must be secured to an anchorage that can support at least twice the potential impact of a worker's
fall or 3,000 pounds, whichever is greater.
- Body support: A body belt is acceptable as part of a positioning-device system. However, it must limit the arresting force on a worker
to 900 pounds and it can only be used for body support.
- Connectors: Connectors must have a minimum strength of 5,000 pounds. Snap hooks and D-rings must be proof-tested to a minimum load of
3,600 pounds without deforming or breaking.
A full-body harness is also acceptable and must limit the arrest force to 1,800 pounds.
Belts or harnesses must have side D-rings or a single front D-ring for positioning.
A guardrail system consists of a top rail, midrail, and intermediate vertical member. Guardrail systems can also be combined with toeboards that prevent materials from rolling off the
walking/working surface. They are the preferred control method of fall protection because they can prevent falls rather than merely reducing risk when falls occur.
If a guardrail system is required, be sure to comply with the following provisions:
- Top edge height of top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members, must be between 39 and 45 inches above the walking/working level, except when conditions warrant otherwise and
all other criteria are met (e.g., when employees are using stilts, the top edge height of the top rail must be increased by an amount equal the height of the stilts).
- Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, or equivalent intermediate structures, must be installed between the top edge and the walking/working surface when there is
no wall or other structure at least 21 inches high.
- Midrails must be midway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working level.
- Screens and mesh must extend from the top rail to the walking/working level, and along the entire opening between rail supports.
- Intermediate members (such as balusters) between posts must be no more than 19 inches apart.
- Other structural members (such as additional midrails or architectural panels) must be installed so as to leave no openings wider than 19 inches.
- Guardrail systems must be capable of withstanding at least 200 pounds of force applied within 2 inches of the top edge, in any direction and at any point along the edge, and without
causing the top edge of the guardrail to deflect downward to a height less than 39 inches above the walking/working level.
- Midrails, screens, mesh, and other intermediate members must be capable of withstanding at least 150 pounds of force applied in any direction at any point along the midrail or other member.
- Guardrail systems must not have rough or jagged surfaces that would cause punctures, lacerations, or snagged clothing.
- Top rails and midrails must not cause a projection hazard by overhanging the terminal posts.
Many times the nature and location of the work will dictate the form that fall protection takes. If the employer chooses to use a safety net system, they must comply with the following provisions:
- Safety nets must be installed as close as practicable under the surface on which employees are working, but in no case more than 30 feet below.
- When nets are used on bridges, the potential fall area must be unobstructed.
- Safety nets must extend outward from the outermost projection of the work surface. They must be a specific distance from the work surface. The nets must have a minimum horizontal distance
from the edge
of the working surface to the net's outer edge. Take a look at the table below:
|Distance Below Work Surface
||Minimum Horizontal Distance From Edge
Up to 5 feet
5 to 10 feet
More than 10 feet
- Safety nets must be installed with sufficient clearance to prevent contact with the surface or structures under them when subjected to an impact force equal to a properly conducted drop test.
- Safety nets and their installations must be capable of absorbing an impact force equal to the drop test described below.
- Safety nets and safety net installations must be drop-tested at the jobsite:
- after initial installation and before being used
- whenever relocated
- after major repair
- at 6-month intervals if left in one place
- Safety nets must be inspected for wear, damage, and other deterioration at least once a week, and after any occurrence which could affect the integrity of the system.
- Defective nets shall not be used, and defective components must be removed from service.
- Objects which have fallen into the safety net, such as scrap pieces, equipment, and tools, must be removed as soon as possible from the net and at least before the next work shift.
- Maximum mesh size must not exceed 6 inches by 6 inches. All mesh crossings must be secured to prevent enlargement of the mesh opening, which must be no longer than 6 inches, measured
- Each safety net, or section thereof, must have a border rope for webbing with a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds.
- Connections between safety net panels must be as strong as integral net components, and must not be spaced more than 6 inches apart.
Warning-Line Systems for Roofing Work
Roofing work refers to hoisting, storing, applying, and removing roofing materials and equipment; it includes work on related insulation, sheet metal, and vapor barriers. However,
it does not include the construction of the roof deck or leading-edge work.
A warning-line system for roofing work consists of ropes, wires or chains, and supporting stanchions that mark off an area within which roofing work can be done without guardrails,
personal fall-arrest systems, restraint systems, or safety nets. Warning-line systems can only be used for roofing work on roofs that have slopes of 2:12 or less, vertical to horizontal.
The purpose of the line is to warn roofers that they are near an unprotected edge.
The warning line must be at least 6 feet from an unprotected edge and meet the following criteria:
- Be flagged at least every 6 feet with high-visibility material.
- Be rigged so that the line is 34 to 39 inches from the walking/working surface.
- Have a minimum tensile strength of 500 pounds. Don't use plastic caution tape for a warning line.
- Be attached to each stanchion so that tension on one section of the line will not cause an adjacent stanchion to tip over. Stanchions must be able to support a force of at least 16 pounds applied
horizontally in the direction of the roof edge without tipping over.
Workers who do roofing work between the warning line and an unprotected roof edge must be protected with personal fall-arrest systems, restraint systems, guardrail systems, safety monitoring systems,
or safety nets.
Is this fall protection system adequate?
A slide-guard system prevents workers from sliding down a sloped roof. The system consists of a slide
guard (typically 2-by-6-inch lumber) and at least two roof brackets and must be installed under the supervision of a competent person. Roof brackets are available from roofing-equipment suppliers.
When are Slide Guards Allowed?
In residential construction, slide guards are not permitted to be used in as the primary means of fall protection lieu of conventional fall protection methods during roofing work (removal, repair, or installation of weatherproofing roofing materials, such as shingles, tile, and tar paper). However, slide guards may be used as part of a written, site-specific fall protection plan that meets the requirements of
29 CFR 1926.502(k) if
the employer can demonstrate that the use of conventional fall protection would be infeasible or create greater hazards. Residential construction means that the end-use of the structure will be a home and the structure is built using traditional wood frame construction materials and methods.
A safety monitor must be a competent person.
Safety Monitoring for Roofing Work
This is a method in which a person, rather than a mechanical system, warns roofers when they are in danger of falling. The monitor, who must be a competent person, is responsible for recognizing
fall hazards and warning workers about them.
Safety monitoring can be used only to protect those who do roofing work on roofs that have slopes no greater than 2:12 and widths no greater than 50 feet. Safety monitoring on roofs wider than
50 feet is not permitted unless a warning-line system also protects the workers.
The safety monitor's responsibilities:
- recognize fall hazards
- warn employees when they are unaware of hazards or aren't working safely
- stay on the same walking/working surface as the workers to see them and to communicate with them while they are working
- avoid any other work or distracting activity while monitoring the workers
Only those who are doing roofing work are permitted in the area controlled by the safety monitor. Mechanical equipment can't be used or stored in the area.
Is equipment can act as a catch platform.
Catch platforms, which consist of a stable platform and an attached standard guardrail, can protect roofers when other systems or methods are not feasible. Platform guidelines:
- The platform should not be more than 18 inches below the eave line of the roof.
- The platform should extend horizontally at least 2 feet beyond the eave line of the roof.
- The platform must have a standard guardrail and toeboard. The top guardrail should rise substantially (at least 12 inches) above the eave line of the roof. Install intermediate
rails or a solid barrier between the top rail and the platform to prevent a worker from sliding under the top rail.
A skylight cover would have prevented this accident.
Covers for Holes
Simple and effective when they're properly installed, rigid covers prevent workers from falling through skylights or temporary openings and holes in walking/working surfaces.
Safety criteria for covers:
- Will support at least twice (2 times) the maximum expected weight of workers, equipment, and materials. Skylights are not considered covers unless they meet this strength requirement.
- Are secured to prevent accidental displacement.
- Have full edge bearing on all four sides.
- Are painted with a distinctive color or marked with the word HOLE or COVER.
Fences and Barricades
Fences and barricades are warning barriers. They are usually made from posts and wire or boards that keep people away from hazards such as wells, pits, and shafts.
Protecting Workers From Falling Objects
You need to protect yourself from falling when you work on an elevated surface and be aware of those working above or below you. Protect yourself and others from falling objects with one
of the following methods:
- Canopies: Make sure canopies won't collapse or tear from an object's impact.
- Toeboards: Toeboards must be least 3½ inches high and strong enough to withstand a force of at least 50 pounds applied downward or outward.
- Panels and screens: If you need to pile material higher than the top edge of a toeboard, install panels or screens to keep the material from dropping over the edge.
- Barricades and fences: Use them to keep people away from areas where falling objects could hit them.
When doing overhand bricklaying, keep materials and equipment (except masonry and mortar) at least 4 feet from the working edge. When doing roofing work, keep materials and equipment at least 6 feet
from the roof edge unless there are guardrails along the edge. All piled, grouped, or stacked material near the roof edge must be stable and self-supporting.
Example of throwing a ring buoy during Coast Guard "man overboard" exercise.
Working Over Water
There are many dangers when working over water that has led to many injuries and fatalities, like drowning, over the years and OSHA has specific requirements about fall protection while working over water.
- Employees working over or near water, where the danger of drowning exists, must be provided with U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or buoyant work vests.
- Prior to and after each use, buoyant work vests or life preservers must be inspected for defects which would alter their strength or buoyancy. Defective units must not be used.
- Ring buoys with at least 90 feet of line must be provided and readily available for emergency rescue operations. Distance between ring buoys must not exceed 200 feet.
- At least one lifesaving skiff must be immediately available at locations where employees are working over or adjacent to water.
It's important to note that OSHA does not consider safety nets to be adequate protection from eliminating drowning hazards.
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