Search

The Challenge of Fall Protection

Posted on 3/5/2013 by Joel Gregier

For the past twenty years, fatalities related to falls have consistently ranked in the top four causes of workplace deaths. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to protect their employees from recognized hazards that may result in death or serious physical harm and to comply with OSHA standards. So which standards might the employer need to consider in addressing workplace fall protection?
 
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers in General Industry to first address safeguards to the physical structures and devices within the workplace, and then use personal protective equipment for employees when they are unable to completely control the hazards through engineering or administrative methods.
 
Fall protection standards for physical structures are located under the “Walking and Working Surfaces” standards [29 CFR 1910, Subpart D]. These standards cover floor and wall openings/holes, elevated platforms, fixed stairs, and fixed ladders. For each work surface, OSHA has established minimum construction requirements for safeguards such as railings, handrails, and toe boards. The goals of these standards are to minimize:
 
  • Employee falls, and
  • Objects falling on employees from surfaces above their heads
General Fall Protection Rules
 
As a general rule, openings and platforms 4 feet or more above floor-level, or fixed stairs with 4 or more risers, must be constructed with railings and/or hand rails. The Walking and Working Surfaces standards provide specific instructions regarding the construction of these structures.
 
Toe boards must be installed on platforms and around openings whenever:
 
  • Persons can pass beneath the platform, or
  • The platform is above moving machinery, or
  • There is equipment below the platform with which falling materials could create a hazard.

Hazardous Waste Recycling Reliefs Banner
 
Also, open-sided floors and platforms require railings and toe boards, even if the elevation is under 4 feet, if they are above or adjacent to hazardous locations (e.g., dangerous equipment).
 
Unconventional Elevated Work Surfaces
 
Because there are many unconventional elevated working surfaces (i.e., conveyors, tops of machinery, and other structures not normally considered “walking and working” surfaces), OSHA clarifies what it means by “platforms” at STD 1-1.13. According to this directive, OSHA considers something a platform, and therefore subject to the platform guarding standards, if employees will work on it on a “predictable and regular basis.” “Predictable and regular” covers functions such as, but not limited to, inspections, service, repair, and maintenance that are performed at least once every two weeks or for a total of 4 man-hours during any sequential 4-week period. For instance, if 2 employees work for 2 hours each (4 man-hours total) within a 4-week period, that elevated surface would be considered a “platform.”
 
Personal Protection Equipment
 
As a general rule, personal protective equipment (PPE) must be provided, used, and maintained in reliable conditions whenever hazards in the workplace can cause injury or impairment from physical contact [29 CFR 1910.132(a)]. If, after securing the workplace by installing mandatory safeguards, employees are still at risk from falling hazards, then employers must select, provide, and train their employees in the proper use and care of their personal protective equipment.
 
The General Industry Standards do not have standards for specific fall protection PPE. However, there are specifications for certain fall prevention and fall arrest systems within the Construction Standards [29 CFR 1926). While these standards may not directly apply to non-construction related practices, they may serve as a basis for demonstrating the general requirements at 29 CFR 1910.132. In addition, there may be consensus standards that pertain to a workplace scenario that may provide assistance to the employer in assuring that fall protection PPE has been evaluated and implemented properly under the General Industry Standards.
 
10 Hour Training You Can Trust
 
Learn the OSHA mandates that apply to your facility with Lion’s comprehensive 10 Hour General Industry Online Course. The course has been updated to include OSHA’s new GHS rules, and students gain the critical knowledge and tools needed to ensure site compliance, protect employees, and maintain productivity.
 
What other OSHA safety and protection regulations do you interact with day-to-day? Share on below.
 
References: OSHA Instruction STD 1-1.13, April 16, 1984. 29 CFR 1910.23(c), 1910.132

Tags: best, osha, practices

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

No comparison. Lion has the best RCRA training ever!!

Matt Sabine

Environmental Specialist

The instructor had knowledge of regulations and understanding of real-world situations. The presentation style was engaging and fostered a positive atmosphere for information sharing.

Linda Arlen

Safety & Environmental Compliance Officer

I was able to present my scenario to the instructor and worked thru the regulations together. In the past, I attended another training firm's classes. Now, I have no intention of leaving Lion!

Diana Joyner

Senior Environmental Engineer

Very well structured, comprehensive, and comparable to live training seminars I've participated in previously. I will recommend the online course to other colleagues with training requirement needs.

Neil Luciano

EHS Manager

The instructor was energetic and made learning fun compared to dry instructors from other training providers.

Andy D’Amato

International Trade Compliance Manager

I really enjoy your workshops. Thank you for such a great program and all the help Lion has provided me over the years!

George Chatman

Hazardous Material Pharmacy Technician

Excellent. I learned more in two days with Lion than at a 5-day program I took with another provider.

Francisco Gallardo

HES Technician

My experience with Lion training, both online and in the classroom, is that they are far better organized and provide a better sequential explanation of the material.

Robert Roose

Manager, Dangerous Goods Transportation

I like Lion's workshops the best because they really dig into the information you need to have when you leave the workshop.

Tom Bush, Jr.

EHS Manager

The training was impressive. I am not a fan of online training but this was put together very well. I would recommend Lion to others.

Donnie James

Quality Manager

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Decrease spill, release, and injury risk and increase savings with these "source reduction" strategies to prevent unused chemicals from becoming regulated as hazardous waste.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.