Fall Protection Systems (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're not sure how much an anchorage will support, have a qualified person evaluate it.
Positioning-device systems make it easier to work with both hands free on a vertical surface such as a wall or concrete form. Positioning-device systems are also called Class II work-positioning systems and work-positioning systems.
A positioning-device system with a self-retracting lifeline.
The components of a positioning-device system - anchorage, connectors, and body support - are similar to those of a personal fall-arrest system. However, the systems serve different purposes. A positioning-device 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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 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.
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, he 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
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 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.
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.
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
Requirements for slide-guard systems:
- Slide-guard systems can be used only on roofs with slopes between 3:12 and 8:12 and ground-to-eave height of 25 feet or less.
- Roofs with slopes between 3:12 and 6:12 must have at least one slide guard below the work area, no closer than 6 inches from the eave.
- Roofs with slopes between 6:12 and 8:12 must have multiple slide guards no more than 8 feet apart vertically. The lowest slide guard must be no closer than 6 inches from the eave.
- The slide guard closest to the eave must be perpendicular to the roof surface. All other slide guards must be set at an angle not less than 60 degrees to the roof surface.
- Slide guards must provide continuous protection along the length of the roof.
Manufactured roof brackets: Install manufactured roof brackets according to the manufacturer's directions. Keep the information at the job site for those who want to review it.
- Each bracket must be 6 inches or larger and all brackets must mount on a solid surface.
- The horizontal space between brackets cannot exceed the manufacturer's specifications - or 8 feet - whichever is less.
Attaching slide guards: Use 2-by-6-inch lumber for slide guards. Secure the slide guards to the roof brackets or use another method to prevent them from cantilevering and failing due to material flex.
Job-made slide-guard systems: Use 2-by-6-inch lumber for a job-made slide-guard system. Vertical members must be backed to horizontal flat members.
Anchor horizontal members to solid bearing surfaces with two 16-penny common nails or the equivalent every 4 feet. Anchor vertical members to horizontal members with one 16-penny common nail or the equivalent every 2 feet.
Vertical members must have full-support bracing every 8 feet, horizontally.
When are Slide Guards Allowed?
Slide guards are not permitted to be used 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) if
the employer can demonstrate that the use of conventional fall protection would be infeasible or create greater hazards.
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.
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.
When are Safety Monitoring Systems Allowed?
When roofing work is performed on low-slope roofs (i.e. 4 in 12 pitch or less), safety monitoring systems can still be used in conjunction with a warning line system to protect
workers on the roof. When such a roof is 50 feet or less in width, a safety monitoring system can be used alone and without a warning line system. Safety monitoring systems must
meet the requirements of OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(h).
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
- 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.
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