The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has clearly defined fall protection requirements. Each of the following industries are required to utilize specific measures when personnel are working at these heights:
- General Industry: Four feet
- Shipyards: Five feet
- Construction industry: Six feet
- Longshoring operations: Eight feet
In order to provide increased safety measures, federal OSHA guidelines require fall protection systems at six feet. There is rarely an exception to this rule for good reason.
Since safety measures are in place to prevent falls and save lives, it’s important to follow OSHA’s fall protection system guidelines. Their three-step process, to plan, to provide, and to train, has demonstrated its effectiveness.
There are general and personal fall arrest systems. Using a net would be a general fall protection system, while using a lifeline would be a personal fall protection system. In some cases, both may be required. One of the primary reasons for these requirements it only takes two-thirds of a second for an individual to fall around seven feet.
When working at six feet or higher, workers need to have the appropriate equipment as well as fall protection. Depending on the type of job being performed, employers need to supply their workers with ladders, scaffolds, and OSHA-approved safety gear.
If a job entails working at a height of 25 feet or greater, safety nets must be provided. These are particularly vital to lessen the impact of a potential fall when temporary floors and scaffolds aren’t being used. Lifelines and other recommended safety equipment should be used within these circumstances.
Both general and personal fall protection equipment should be tested on a regular basis. Safety nets, for example, should be tested with a weight of approximately 300 pounds, according to OSHA. This weight should only deviate slightly by plus or minus five pounds, however.
After completing their OSHA fall protection training, workers should continue to review their materials on a regular basis. It’s also important to refer to other valuable health and safety resources that are available through OSHA and the work place. Employers should, of course, closely monitor their workers to determine that they are fall protection competent.