Using Debris Nets

A debris net is designed to contain or catch tools, material or debris after they have fallen from an elevated surface.


Debris nets are designed to catch construction materials (scraps, nails, tools, falling concrete) to prevent them from potentially injuring workers or pedestrians below.  Debris nets can be classified by two types.  Vertical netting systems are used to contain debris and may serve as a visible guardrail.  Perimeter netting systems, also known as personnel safety nets, can be used to catch fallen tools, material and debris as well as personnel.  

(Photo courtesy of ELCOSH)

Debris nets are designed to catch falling debris, such as tools, foreign objects, falling concrete, and other construction debris, to protect workers and pedestrians below. Often safety nets and debris nets are combined. The smaller mesh nets used to catch small debris are used in conjunction with larger and stronger nets used to catch workers. Debris nets must be secured on top of the personnel net and must not compromise the design, construction, or performance of the personnel nets.  In these cases, the nets must be cleared of debris on a regular basis to ensure a falling worker's protection. The strength and size of the mesh must be sufficient to sustain the impact, catch the size, and sustain the weight of the objects that are likley to fall. Typical net sizes range from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch mesh.

Debris net. (Photo courtesy of Guardian Fall Protection Inc.)
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published consensus standards related to safety requirements for the selection, installation, and use of personnel and debris nets during construction, repair, and demolition operations. This document is titled ANSI A10.11 Safety Requirements for Personnel and Debris Nets and has been newly revised in 2010. ANSI voluntary consensus standards are an excellent source of reference material and are widely recognized in industry.

Risks Addressed:

A struck by falling object hazard occurs when the source of injury is an object falling from an elevation to a lower level, including instances where the injured person is struck-by, crushed, pinned, or caught under a falling object.  Working from height can expose workers below to potential falling tools, material and debris.  This type of struck by injuries can result in severe injuries or death.

How Risks are Reduced:

The risk of injury from being struck by falling objects is reduced by using debris nets which are designed to contain or catch debris.

Additional Considerations:

When equipment or materials are piled higher than the top edge of a standard toe-board on a guardrail, debris nets must be installed from the top rail to deck level to provide overhead protection for employees working below. When properly installed from a top rail and secured directly to deck level, some nets satisfy OSHA requirements for mid-rail and toe-board protection, as well as overhead protection.

The installation of nets requires careful planning. Workers who are involved in installing and removing safety or debris nets must be protected from fall hazards by aerial lifts, personal fall arrest equipment, or a personal restraint system. Nets and/or horizontal lifelines can provide many solutions to fall hazards if they are planned, installed, and used.

When selecting debris nets, ensure they are compliant with all applicable OSHA 1926 Subpart M regulations.

In cases where personnel safety nets are used, they shall be lined with debris netting of sufficient strength and size to contain tools and materials capable of causing injury.


Mark Fullen, CSP and Kristen Savage - West Virginia University

Hazards Addressed:


To obtain information, visit perimeter safety systems or contact 1-860-537-1414

PearlWeave Safety Netting
To obtain information, visit debris netting or contact 1-800-732-7566

GF Protection Inc.
To obtain information, visit debris netting or contact 1-800-466-6385

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.