Fall Protection: Definitions and Guidelines
Your job may expose you to a potential fall. You must prevent serious injury by eliminating the possibility of falls to a lower level. Prevent falls by:
- Understanding the purpose and correct use of each component of your fall protection equipment;
- Understanding how fall protection systems are put together from individual pieces of equipment; and
- Applying the correct fall protection system to match the fall protection needs as determined by the situation.
Listed below, in order of preference, are the fall protection options available to you.
Passive Fall Prevention
- The best way to avoid a fall is not to work from a height. Bring the work down to ground level whenever possible.
- If you can’t bring the work to ground level, work from access equipment such as scaffolding, a platform, an aerial lift, or a ladder.
- If the work environment does not allow you to use access equipment, secure the elevated work area with a passive fall prevention barrier system, such as guardrails or a roof parapet at least 42” high.
If the work environment does not allow for the use of a passive fall prevention system, use an approved fall restraint system. Fall restraint systems, such as a harness, and rope grab prevent the employee from reaching the edge of the roof.
- A fall arrest system, such as a rope grab kit, lanyard, and approved or acceptable anchorage point arrests and limits the fall of an employee. Plan a method of rescue prior to the use of a fall arrest system.
Controlled Access Zone
- When on elevated surfaces such as rooftops, platforms, or around pits and tanks one option is to establish a Controlled Access Zone (CAZ) A CAZ protects employees not wearing fall protection equipment by warning them when they are within six feet of the fall hazard.
- The system uses stanchions and control lines with high visibility flags every six feet. The line must be rated for two hundred pounds and be not less than six or more than 25 feet from the edge.
- A safety monitor must be assigned to: watch and warn employees who leave the safe zone and enter the CAZ six foot zone who are not wearing fall protection gear.
- For general production crews, the trigger height for mandatory fall protection is 4 feet. Guardrails (42”), or harnesses with appropriate anchorage points are required.
- For construction work on a permanent structure, the trigger height for mandatory fall protection is 6’ (7.5’ in CA). Guardrails (42”), or harnesses with appropriate anchorage points are required.
- The trigger heights do not apply to work performed from portable ladders. If ladders are used properly, additional fall protection measures are generally not necessary.