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Fall Protection Systems (Continued)

Horizontal Travel-Restraint Systems

net
A common fall restraint system on a wind turbine.

A travel restraint system defined in 1910.140(b) means a combination of an anchorage, anchorage connector, lanyard (or other means of connection), and body support that an employer uses to eliminate the possibility of an employee going over the edge of a walking-working surface. The system does not retrain a fall: it eliminates the possibility.

A travel restraint (tether) line defined in 1910.140(b) means a rope or wire rope used to transfer forces from a body support to an anchorage or anchorage connector in a travel restraint system. Travel restraint lines must be capable of sustaining a tensile load of at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN).

Anchorages, except window cleaner belt anchors must be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) for each employee attached; or designed, installed, and used, under the supervision of qualified person, as part of a complete personal fall protection system that maintains a safety factor of at least two.

1. Which fall protection system eliminates the possibility of falling over the edge of a walking-working surface?

a. Fall restraint system
b. Fall arrest system
c. Positioning system
d. Guardrail system

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Fall Protection Systems (Continued)

Vertical Positioning-Device Systems

net
Workers using positioning system on towers.

A positioning device is defined in 1926.500(b) means a body belt or body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning. The system is used only when the work surface it vertical.

These devices are designed specifically to stop a worker from falling from a static, head-up position. Under 1926.502(e), a positioning device must limit the fall to 2 feet.

The components of a positioning-device system - anchorage, connectors, and body support.

  • Anchorage: The positioning devices must be secured to an anchorage capable of supporting at least twice the potential impact load of an employee's fall or 3,000 pounds (13.3 kN), whichever is greater.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.

Click on the button to see some questions and answers about the correct use of body belts for fall restraint and positioning.

Questions:

  1. Can an employee on an aerial lift use a body belt if it is used to restrain the employee from falling rather than arresting a fall, such as with a personal fall arrest system?
  2. Can an employee on an aerial lift use a body belt if it is used as part of a positioning device?

Answers:

The difference between a restraint system and a positioning device:

A restraint system is one that prevents a worker from falling any distance. In contrast, for construction work covered by 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart M (Fall Protection), a "positioning device" is defined in 1926.500(b) as "a body belt or body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning." These devices are designed specifically to stop a worker from falling from a static, head-up position. Under 1926.502(e), a positioning device must limit the fall to 2 feet.

Appropriate body belt use in aerial lifts

An employee can use a body belt when the body belt is used in a restraint system -- a system that prevents the worker from being exposed to any fall.

A body belt is permitted to be used in a positioning device. However, since positioning devices are defined as systems used to protect workers on vertical surfaces, positioning devices are not permitted in bucket-type aerial lifts, where the work surface is horizontal working from an aerial lift. An employee must be protected by a personal fall arrest system. Under 1926.502(d), body belts are not permitted to be used in a personal fall arrest system, and the requirement is not negated by the use of a positioning device that limits any fall to 2 feet.

Sources: OSHA Interpretation Letter May 11, 2001. 1926.453(a) and (b)(2), 1926.500(b), 1926.502(d) and (e); aerial lifts; fall arrest systems; positioning devices

2. Which fall protection system must limit a fall to no more than two feet?

a. Fall restraint system
b. Fall arrest system
c. Positioning system
d. Guardrail system

Next Section

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Guardrail Systems

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.

If a guardrail system is required, be sure to comply with the following provisions:

  • The top edge height of top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members, must be 42 inches plus or minus 3 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 balasters) 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.

3. What is the required height of scaffold top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members above the walking-working level?

a. Between 27 and 33 inches
b. Between 30 and 36 inches
c. Between 36 and 42 inches
d. Between 39 and 45 inches

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Safety-Net Systems

Many times the nature and location of the work will dictate the form that fall protection takes. One of the three OSHA-required methods is the use of a safety net system. A safety net is a device used to "catch" a worker during a fall such that it mitigates the severity of the fall. When employers use safety nets, 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 (9.1 m) 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
Up to 5 feet 8 feet
5 to 10 feet 10 feet
More than 10 feet 13 feet

Click on the button to see additional OSHA requirements for safety nets.

  • 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 the drop test described below.
  • 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
  • The drop test consists of a 400 pound bag of sand 28-32 inches in diameter dropped into the net from the highest surface at which employees are exposed to fall hazards, but not from less than 42 inches above that level.
  • When the employer can demonstrate that it is unreasonable to perform the drop-test described above, the employer or a designated competent person will certify that the net and net installation have sufficient clearance and impact absorption by preparing a certification record prior to the net being used as a fall protection system. The certification must include:
    • identification of the net and net installation
    • date that it was determined the net and net installation were in compliance
    • signature of the person making the determination and certification
  • The most recent certification record for each net and net installation must be available at the jobsite for inspection.
  • 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 center-to-center.
  • 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.

4. What is the maximum distance safety nets may be installed under the work surface?

a. 10 feet
b. 15 feet
c. 30 feet
d. 35 feet

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Warning Line System - OROSHA

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.

Those 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.

5. How far must a warning line be placed from an unprotected edge?

a. At least 6 feet
b. Up to 8 feet
c. Ten feet or more
d. Over 15 feet

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Slide-Guard Systems

slideguard
Is this slide guard 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. A slide-guard system can also be made at the work site without manufactured roof brackets. Slide-guard systems cannot be the only means of fall protection on roofs with a ground-to-eave height greater than 25 feet.

When are Slide Guards Allowed?

Slide guards are not permitted in 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) only if the employer can demonstrate that the use of conventional fall protection would be infeasible or would create a greater hazard.

6. In addition to having a written site-specific fall protection plan, what requirement must an employer meet before being allowed to use a slide-guard system?

a. The employer must demonstrate those slide guards would allow for greater movement of workers horizontally
b. The employer must show that using a fall arrest system would be difficult
c. The employer must verify work is being performed on high-pitch a composite roof
d. The employer must prove the use of conventional fall protection is infeasible or more hazardous

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Safety Monitoring

A safety-monitoring system involves a competent person who is responsible for recognizing and warning employees of fall hazards. The method relies on a person, rather than a mechanical system, to warn roofers if they are in danger of falling.

Each employee engaged in roofing activities on low-slope roofs, with unprotected sides and edges 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above lower levels must be protected from falling by:

  • guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, or
  • a combination of warning line system and:
    • a guardrail system,
    • a safety net system,
    • a personal fall arrest system, or
    • a safety monitoring system.

On roofs 50-feet (15.25 m) or less in width (see 1926 Subpart M Appendix A), the use of a safety monitoring system alone [i.e. without the warning line system] is permitted.

The safety monitor's responsibilities include:

  • recognizing fall hazards;
  • warning employees when they are unaware of hazards or aren't working safely;
  • staying on the same walking/working surface as the workers to see them and to communicate with them while they are working; and
  • avoiding 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.

7. Which one of the following actions violates a responsibility assigned to safety monitors?

a. Avoiding other work
b. Monitoring employees from a lower walking-working surface
c. Ensuring a warning line system is installed as required
d. Warning employees of recognized hazards

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Catch Platforms

slideguard
This is a well-built 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.
  • The platform, must be able to support employees and materials that fall on to it.

8. How far should the platform on a catch platform extend horizontally beyond the eave line of the roof?

a. At least 2 feet
b. More than 3 feet
c. Up to 4 feet
d. Between 3 and 4 feet

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Hole Covers

Simple and effective when they're properly installed, rigid hole covers prevent workers from falling through skylights, temporary openings, and holes in walking-working surfaces. OSHA requirements state hold covers must:

  • support at least twice (2 times) the maximum expected weight of workers, equipment, and materials;
  • be secured to prevent accidental displacement;
  • have full edge bearing on all four sides; and
  • be painted with a distinctive color or marked with the word HOLE or COVER.

Note: Skylights are not considered covers unless they meet this strength requirement.

  • 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;
  • Barriers
  • be secured to prevent accidental displacement;
  • have full edge bearing on all four sides; and
  • be 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.

9. How much weight must a hole cover support?

a. The anticipated weight of workers, equipment, and materials
b. The potential maximum expected weight of workers, equipment, and materials
c. At least twice the maximum expected weight of workers, equipment, and materials
d. At least 3,000 pounds or the expected weight of workers, equipment, and materials

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Protecting Everyone From Falling Objects

Covered pedestrian walkways protect against 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.
  • Distance: Another method to help protect others on a lower surface is to keep objects away from working edges.
    • 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.

10. When working on a roof, how far should materials and equipment be kept from the roof edge?

a. Between 3 and 4 feet depending on the pitch of the roof
b. More than 4 feet when working on a pitched roof
c. At least 6 feet when the edge has no guardrail with toeboards
d. At least 2 feet if the material is stable

Check your Work

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