Solution Summary: Fall Protection Plan
Preparing and following a written, site specific plan to prevent falls is always recommended for employees working at heights.
OSHA fall protection requirements are found at 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M.
Preparing and following a written, site specific fall protection plan is always recommended for employees working at heights. Federal OSHA standard 1926.502(k) requires that a fall protection plan be prepared for employees engaged in leading edge work, precast concrete construction and residential construction when it is unsafe or infeasible to use conventional fall protection. Some states and province, including California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia require written fall protection plans for a broader range of construction situations.
To comply with 1926.502(k) a fall protection plan must be site specific. A qualified person must prepare the original plan and any changes to the plan. A competent person must supervise the implementation of the plan, a copy of which must be maintained on the job site. The plan must document the reasons why conventional fall prevention systems cannot be used and describe the methods that will be used to eliminate or reduce fall hazards. Each location where alternative fall prevention methods will be used must be identified as a controlled access zone (CAZ). The name or other specific designation of all persons designated to work in CAZs must be listed and no other persons may be allowed to enter CAZs. In the event of a fall or other related serious incident an investigation must be conducted and any needed changes made to the fall protection plan.
Sample fall protection plans for precast concrete construction and residential construction are provided by OSHA at Appendix E to Subpart M. Requirements vary from state to state.Requirements and guidelines are available for California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
1926.502 specifies the fall prevention systems that may be used. OSHA requires fall prevention systems whenever employees are assigned to work 6 feet or more above a lower level. Some state and provincial regulations specify different height criteria.
Fall prevention systems include guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, positioning devices, warning lines, controlled access zones, safety monitors, and covers. Fall hazards for employees involved in leading edge work, precast concrete construction or residential construction for whom conventional fall prevention systems are infeasible or unsafe may be eliminated or controlled by implementing a fall protection plan.
Employee training/retraining must also be conducted and certified 1926.503 and falling object protection provided (1926.502(j).
Fall protection systems must be installed before employees begin work. OSHA requires fall prevention systems whenever employees are assigned to work 6 feet or more above a lower level. Some state and provincial regulations specify different height criteria. Employee training/retraining must also be conducted and certified (1926.503) and falling object protection provided (1926.502(j).
1926.502 specifies the fall prevention systems that may be used. Fall prevention systems include guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, positioning devices, warning lines, controlled access zones, safety monitors, and covers. Fall hazards for employees involved in leading edge work, precast concrete construction or residential construction for whom conventional fall prevention systems are infeasible or unsafe may be eliminated or controlled by implementing a fall protection plan.
Fall prevention or fall arrest must be provided when any edge or opening would permit a fall to a lower elevation of at least 6 feet. Guardrail systems, designed to prevent falls, must conform to the requirements of 1926.502(b). Guardrails must be 42 inches high (plus or minus 3 inches) and must be able to withstand a force of 200 pounds in any direction. When workers use stilts the height of the stilts must be added to the guardrail height.
Guardrails Portable, reusabable, non-penetrating systems for roof work or other situations where surface penetration must be avoided are available from supplier such as Portable Guard Rail and Bluewater.
Safety nets, a fall arrest system, must meet the requirements of 1926.502(c). Product information and instructions for proper set up and use are available from suppliers like DBI Sala. Safety nets must be installed as close as practicable under the occupied working/walking surface but in no case more than 30 feet lower. Nets must extend horizontally at least 8 feet from the outermost projection for fall of up to 5 feet, 10 feet for falls up to 10 feet, and 13 feet for all other fall distances.
Personal Fall Arrest Systems
OSHA requirements for personal fall arrest systems are detailed and strict due to the very high forces that can be generated during even a short fall. Equipment should be obtained from reputable fall arrest system suppliers and used according to regulation and manufacturers directions.
Personal fall arrest systems include a full body harness, an anchorage point, and a connecting assembly. Always use a safety harness, never a safety belt, as part of a fall arrest sytem since the concentrated arresting force of a belt is very likely to cause severe injuries. If a fall protection system is not part of a single unit, a competent person must ensure that all components work correctly together.
Horizontal lifelines, components of some personal fall arrest systems,allow workers to attach a lanyard to a line stretched between supports. Horizontal lifelines are very useful in some construction applications but must be designed by a qualified person because the forces exerted on the anchorage points can become excessive if the line is improperly designed or rigged.
Positioning systems are designed to prevent a fall of more than 2 feet and therefore have lower strength requirement for some components than fall arrest system. Do not use positioning devise components for fall arrest unless they are certified for that use.
Falls may also be prevented by using warning lines, monitors or by unique systems specified in a fall protection plan. Each of these methods must conform to the applicable OSHA, state or provincial requirements.
A critical component of a fall protection plan is the covering and marking or guarding of all holes and weak points including skylights and fiberglass panels.
Individuals working at height on construction sites are at risk of injury or death from falls. A fall prevention plan can help to identify, address and correct fall hazards, and reduce the risk of a fall.
How Risks are Reduced:
Construction workers are protected from injuries due to fall either by preventing the fall (guardrails, covers, fall restraints, monitors, warning lines) or by arresting a fall (personal fall arrest systems, safety nets). Planning, supervision and training are needed to ensure the effectiveness of whatever method is use.
Government standards established guidelines for Fall Protection Standards that all worksites must adhere to in order to prevent penalities including fines and work stoppages.
Effects on Productivity:
An effective fall protection plan identifies risks associated with falls in the course of construction work, and institutes measures to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of these occurences. Reviewing a fall protection plan regularly will allow workers to incorporate safeguards within the plan into their work activities.
Training. planning, inspection and supervision are key elements of every fall prevention program. Failure to perform any of these functions adequately may negate the value of fall prevention systems.
OSHA provides a sample fall protection plan on its website: http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=10927&p_table=STANDARDS
A full range of fall protection system hardware is available from Quotaserv Inc and DBI SALA. Portable guardrails can be obtained from Bluewater Manufacturing and Portable Guardrail. An extensive list of fall protection equipment suppliers is also available on line.