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Environmental Health & Safety Manual

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24 - FALL PROTECTION

Section Contents

24.1 GENERAL
24.2 DEFINITIONS
24.3 SITUATIONS REQUIRING FALL PROTECTION SYSTEMS
24.4 REQUIREMENTS FOR FALL PROTECTION SYSTEMS
24.5

ARTICULATING BOOM AERIAL LIFTS

 

 


 

24.1

GENERAL

This program outlines necessary provisions to protect employees from the risks associated with working from unprotected heights.  The Occupational Safety & Health Administration addresses fall protection in General Industry Standards 29 CFR 1910 Subparts D, F and I  and Construction Industry Standards 29 CFR 1926.450 - 1926.454 (Subpart L) and 1926.500 - 1926.503 (Subpart and M). 

This program shall not apply to employees:

  • conducting inspection or assessments of workplaces prior to the start of construction activities;
  • working on scaffolds, stairways and/or ladders; and
  • working in scissor lifts with proper guard rail systems in place.

24.2

DEFINITIONS
Anchorage - a secure point of attachment for lifelines, lanyards or deceleration devices.
Body harness - straps secured in a manner to distribute fall forces over the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest and shoulders with means for attaching it to other components of a personal fall arrest system.
Buckle - any device for holding a body harness closed around one's body.
Connector - a device used to connect the personal fall arrest system or positioning device to other parts of the system.  It may be an independent component of the system such as a carabiner, or it may be an integral component of part of the system, such as a buckle or D-ring sewn into a body harness.
Controlled access zone - a controlled area in which certain work may take place without the use of guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, or safety net systems.
Deceleration device - any mechanism such as a rope grab, rip-stitch lanyard, automatic self-retracting lifelines/lanyards, etc., which dissipates a substantial amount of energy during a fall.
Deceleration distance - the distance between the location of an employees body harness attachment point at the moment of activation of the deceleration device, and the location of that attachment point after the employee comes to a full stop.
Free fall - the act of falling before a personal fall arrest system begins to arrest the fall.
Free fall distance - the vertical distance between the onset of the fall and just before the system begins to apply force to arrest the fall.
Guardrail system - a barrier erected to prevent employees from falling to lower levels.
Hole - a gap two inches (2") or more in a floor, roof, or other working/walking surface.
Lanyard - a flexible line of rope, wire rope or strap which generally has a connector at each end for connecting the body harness to a deceleration device, lifeline or anchorage.
Lifeline - A flexible line for connection to an anchorage at one end to hang vertically, or for connection to anchorages at both ends to stretch horizontally which serves as a means for connecting other components of a personal fall arrest system to the anchorage.
Opening - a gap thirty inches (30") or more high and eighteen inches (18") or more wide in a wall or partition through which employees can fall to a lower level.
Personal fall arrest system - a system used to stop an employee in a fall, consisting of an anchorage, connectors, and body harness.  May include a lanyard, deceleration device or lifeline.
Positioning device system - a body harness system which allows an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall or pole, and work with both hands free while leaning.
Rope grab - a deceleration device which travels on a lifeline and automatically, by friction, engages the lifeline and locks so as to stop the fall of an employee.
Safety monitoring system - a safety system implemented during work at heights, in which a competent person is responsible for recognizing and warning employees of fall hazards.
Self-retracting lifeline/lanyard - a decleration device containing a line which can be slowly extracted or retracted into the device under slight tension during normal employee movement, and which automatically locks to stop a fall.
Snaphook - a connector comprised of a hook-shaped member with a normally closed keeper which may be opened to permit the hook to receive an object and, when released, automatically closes to retain the object.  Snaphooks must be the locking type, with a self-closing keeper which remains closed and locked until unlocked and pressed open for connection or disconnection.
Toeboard - a low protective barrier that prevents the fall of materials and equipment to lower levels and provides protection from falls for personnel.
Unprotected Sides/Edges - any side or edge, except at entrances to points of access, of a walking/working surface where there is no wall or guardrail system at least 39 inches high.
Walking/working surface - any surface, horizontal or vertical, on which an employee walks or works, such as floors, roofs, ramps, etc.  Does not include ladders.
Warning line system - a barrier erected on a roof to warn employees that they are approaching an unprotected roof edge, and which designates an area in which roofing work may take place without the use of guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, or safety net systems.  

24.3

SITUATIONS REQUIRING FALL PROTECTION SYSTEMS
Unprotected Sides and Edges: Each employee on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side which is four feet (4') or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems or personal fall arrest systems.
Holes: Each employee on walking/working surfaces shall be protected from falling through holes more than six feet (6') above lower levels, by covers, guardrail systems or personal fall arrest systems.
Dangerous Equipment: Each employee less than 4' above dangerous equipment shall be protected from falling into on onto the equipment by guardrail systems or equipment guards.  Employees work more than 4' above dangerous equipment shall be protected from fall hazards by guardrail systems or fall arrest systems.
Construction Activities on Low-Slope Roofs: Each employee engaged in construction activities on low-slope roofs with unprotected sides and edges 4' or more above lower levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, or a combination of warning line and safety monitoring systems. On roofs 50 feet or less in width, the use of a safety monitoring system alone (i.e. without the warning line system) is permitted.
Wall Openings: Each employee working on, at, above, or near wall openings (including those with chotes attached) where the outside bottom edge of the wall opening is 4' 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 or a personal fall arrest system. 
Aerial Lifts: While working in an articulating boom aerial lift (bucket truck), a full body harness with 4' lanyard attached to the rear midrail of the bucket shall be used. 

24.4

REQUIREMENTS FOR FALL PROTECTION SYSTEMS

 

 

 

 

    24.4.1 Guardrail Systems

 

 

 

 

Height of top rails shall be 39-45 inches above the walking/working level.

Midrails and intermediate members shall be installed between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working surface if there is no wall at least 21 inches high. If necessary, midrails shall be installed at a height midway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working level.

Intermediate members, such as balusters when used between posts, shall be not more than 19 inches apart.

Other structural members such as additional midrails and architectural panels shall be installed such that there are no openings in the guardrail system that are more than 19 inches wide.

Guardrail systems shall be capable of withstanding a force of at least 200 pounds applied within 2 inches of the top edge, in any outward or downward direction at any point along the top edge.

When the 200 pound test load is applied in a downward direction, the top edge of the guardrail shall not deflect to a height less than 39 inches above the walking/working level.  Guardrail system components selected and constructed in accordance with OSHA 1926 Subpart M, Appendix B "Guardrail Systems - Non-Mandatory Guidelines for Complying with 1926.502(b)."

Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, solid panels and equivalent structural members shall be capable of withstanding a force of at least 150 pounds applied in any downward or outward direction at any point along the midrail or other member. 

Guardrail systems shall be designed to prevent injury to an employee from punctures or lacerations and to prevent snagging of clothing. 

The ends of all top rails and midrails shall not overhang the terminal posts except where such overhang does not constitute a projection hazard.

Top rails and midrails shall be at least one-quarter inch nominal diameter or thickness.  If wire rope is used for top rails, it shall be flagged at six foot intervals with high-visibility material.  Steel or plastic banding shall not be used as top rails or midrails.

When guardrail systems are used at holes, they shall be erected on all unprotected sides or edges of the hole. When used around holes utilized as points of access (ex. roof access hatches), guardrail systems shall be provided with a gate or be so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the hole.

 

    24.4.2 Personal Fall Arrest Systems

Body belts shall not be used as part of a personal fall arrest system.

Connectors shall be drop forged, pressed or formed steel, or made of equivalent materials. They shall have a corrosion-resistant finish, and all surfaces and edges shall be smooth to prevent damage to interfacing parts of the system.

D-rings and snaphooks shall have a minimum tensile strength of 5,000 pounds.

Only locking type snaphooks shall be used. Unless the snaphook is designed for the following connections, snaphooks shall not be connected directly to webbing, rope or wire rope; to each other; to a d-ring to which another snaphook or other connector is attached; or to a horizontal lifeline.

Lifelines shall be designed, installed and used under the supervision of a qualified person, as part of a complete personal fall arrest system.  Lifelines shall be protected against being cut or abraded.

When vertical lifelines are used, each employee shal be attached to a separate lifeline.  Lanyards and vertical lifelines shall have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds. 

Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards which automatically limit free fall distance to 2' or less shall be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 3,000 pounds applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position.

Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards which do not limit free fall distance to 2' or less, rip-stitch lanyards, and tearing and deforming lanyards shall be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 5,000 pounds applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position.

Ropes and straps/webbing used in lanyards, lifelines and strength components of body harnesses shall be made from synthetic fibers.

Anchorages shall be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds per employee attached, and shall be used as part of a complete fall arrest system under the supervision of a qualified person.

When stopping a fall, personal fall arrest systems shall:

a. limit maximum arresting force on an employee to 1,800 pounds when used with a body harness;

b. Be rigged so that an employee cannot free fall more than 6' or contact any lower level;

c. Bring an employee to a complete stop and limit maximum deceleration distance an employee travels to 3.5';

d. Have sufficient strength to withstand twice the potential impact energy of an employee free falling 6', or the free fall distance permitted by the system (whichever is less).

The attachment point of the body harness shall be located in the center of the wearer's back near shoulder level, or above the wearer's head.

Body harnesses and related components shall be used only for employee protection and not to hoist materials.

Personal fall arrest systems will be inspected by the user prior to each use for wear, damage and other deterioration.  Defective components shall be removed from service.

Personal fall arrest systems subjected to impact loading shall be immediately removed from service and not used again.

 

    24.4.3  Warning Line Systems

 

When used, warning lines must be erected around all sides of the roof work area, and consist of ropes, wires or chains and supporting stanchions as follows:

a. Lines shall be erected at least 6' from the roof edges;

b. The rope, wire or chain shall be flagged at 6' intervals with high-visibility material;

c. The rope, wire or chain shall be rigged and supported in such a way that its lowest point is no less than 34" from the walking/working surface and its highest point is no more than 39" from the walking/working surface.

d. After being erected with the rope, wire or chain attached, the stanchions shall be capable of resisting, without tipping over, a force of at least 16 pounds applied horizontally against the stanchion.

e. Ropes, wires or chains shall have a minimum tensile strength of 500 pounds.

 

24.5

 

ARTICULATING BOOM AERIAL LIFTS
Use Guidelines
Employees using aerial lift equipment must be trained by a qualified person and properly authorized to operate the lift.
Before operating an aerial lift:
a. Check operating and emergency controls; safety devices such as outriggers and guardrails; personal fall arrest systems; wheels, tires and other items specified by the manufacturer for possible leaks (air, hydraulic fluid, and fuel system) and loose or missing parts.

b. Inspect the area where the lift will be utilized, to ensure a level surface that won't shift.  Do not work on steep slopes which exceed limits specified by the manufacturer.  Also inspect for hazards such as holes, drop-offs, bumps and debris, and other obstructions. Stay at least 10' away from overhead power lines.

c. If working near pedestrian or vehicular traffic, set up work zone warnings such as cones and signs.

d. Set outriggers and brakes if applicable.

When using an aerial lift:

a. Always close lift platform chains or doors;

b. Do not lean on or climb over guardrails;

c. Do not exceed manufacturer's load capacity limits, while also accounting for items such as bucket liners and tools, or vertical/horizontal reach limits;

d. Stop work when people are standing, working or walking underneath your work area;

e. Do not drive with the lift platform elevated, unless authorized by manufacturers guidelines.

 

Maintenance/Inspections

De-energize and lock-out aerial lifts before any maintenance or repairs.

Each aerial lift must be inspected according to manufacturer recommendations, typically every three months or after 150 hours of use, whichever comes first.

When renting an aerial lift, ensure the dealer/rental company has properly inspected and serviced the equipment prior to delivery.  Operator and maintenance manuals must also be included with the lift equipment.