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Fall Protection - The Basics

May 25th 2015 at 1:57 AM

When working at heights, the main concern for both employees and their retaining organization is of course fall protection. There is no simple answer for optimal protection requirements. Single height limitations across all industries and tasks would have been easier to implement but alas, it is not going to happen. OSHA has varying requirements of height under its different guidelines and being the law it is important to enforce them at work scenarios. The default height requirements for various industry situations are as follows:

    4 feet for general industry

    6 feet for construction industry

    4 feet-5 feet marine terminal or shipyard

If your employees are being exposed to a height that equals this or is something beyond it, it's your responsibility to have an adequate protection in place in case of accidental falls happen. It can be a railing, arrest system, or something else in keeping with the laws.

Where is the zero minimum height guideline applicable? This is for conditions where employees are dealing with dangerous machinery, equipment, or are facing hazards where chances of fall are quite high. While you are at it, it is also important to know certain exceptions to these rules and the cases where it applies. Construction is a dynamic business so permanent installation of railing system through identification of hazards is not possible as one can consider in a manufacturing unit. So, you will come across various exceptions in the form of:

A.    Scaffolding: when working upon scaffolding your employees do not require protections even if fall protection training is a must whenever one is working at heights. Protection is only a necessity when you are working at 10 feet above from the ground. Boom lifts do require tying off with restraining travel lanyard.

B.    Ladders/stairs: any stairway that has 4 to 4+ risers for with height of 30”+ need to have stair rails towards unprotected edges or sides. Many times, the need arises of building temporary stairs that require optimal protection for the workers against fall situations. Protection in case of ladders is related mostly to the fixed varieties. Here 24 feet is the key and in situations where the height goes beyond protection in the form of well, cage, self-retracting lifeline or safety device is the requirement.

C.    Steel erection: this is one of the most complex and difficult to understand parts when it comes to installation of protection features as per OSHA. Here the protection is required at 15 feet and not below that. For better understanding is important to go through the associated rules and regulations thoroughly and be clear about what is required when using the steel erection at construction sites.

D.    Rebar assemblies: there has been some debates regarding the need for protection associated with workers who climb rebar vertical assembly as needed during wall constructions. Since it contains multiple footholds and handholds, nothing much is required up to 24 feet but there has to be some protection beyond this height.

For all kinds of fall protection products and safety training do not forget to visit the website

About The Author

Brent Owens is a safety expert who works hand in hand with many construction companies across the country to ensure that employees are always protected while at work. He recommends as the best name to trust for high quality fall protection systems.

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