Basic Introduction to Fall Protection and Ladder Safety Module
Fall Protection

Any employee working more than 6 feet in height and/or reaching more than 10 inches below a walking or working surface, must be protected by one or more of the standard means as listed in this section, or 29 CFR 1926, Subpart M, OSHA's Fall Protection Standard.
Employees must be protected from falling through wall openings where there is a fall of six or more feet to a lower level, and the opening is more than 18 inches wide, and less than 39 inches from the floor. The standard protections for wall openings are guardrail systems or personal fall arrest systems.
Wall Openings
Walking and Working Surfaces
Employees must be protected from falling while working on walking or working surface six feet or more above lower levels. The standard guardrail system is the preferred means of protection while on walking working surfaces.  If conditions dictate and guardrail systems cannot be used safety harnesses and lanyards attached to a proper anchor point will be used.
E Light Electric will use the following conventional fall protection unless it creates more of a hazard.
- Standard Guardrails, when possible or feasible.
- Covers over floor openings, walkway openings, etc...
- Safety Harnesses, lanyards, tie off straps, ropes, and rope grabs.
- Three points of contact when climbing or descending ladders.
- Safety monitors and the controlled access zone (CAZ) when feasible.
Training: All  employees exposed to fall hazards will be trained in the following fall protection systems and tools:
- Guardrail Systems
- Personal Fall Protection Systems
- Warning-line systems
- Control Access Zones
- The OSHA Standard for Fall Protection
- All employees must certify in writing that they have been trained, acknowledging the date of the training, the person doing the training, and the topics covered.
A standard guardrail is constructed of stanchions, a top rail at least 42 inches high, a mid rail at 21 inches high, and a toe board at least 4 inches high. The guardrail must be capable of withstanding 200 lbs. of force in an outward, downward direction without deflecting more than 3 inches.
The company will supply personal fall protection equipment to employees when necessary.  The fall protection equipment will be assigned to each site superintendent or supervisor.  The personal fall protection equipment comes in kits.  There are two types of kits :
- Bag, harness, 6 ft. lanyards, tie off straps.
- Bag, harness, 2 ft. lanyard attached to a rope grab, 30 ft. rope, and a tie off strap.
Personal Fall Arrest Donning: Site supervisor or superintendents will instruct employees on donning and removal of the safety harness and personal fall protection.
- Grasp the harness by the back D ring, lifting the harness up in the air, grasp the left shoulder strap with left hand.  Put left shoulder strap over left shoulder continue with right strap and right shoulder.  Hasp chest straps snug not tight.
- Reach for leg straps, connect, secure and snug up.
- Adjust all straps until comfortable.
Removal of Harness:
Unlatch all straps and connections, slip off over shoulders, grasp back D rings, and stow in the bag.
Maintenance of Harness:
Harness should be kept clean.  If exposed to oils, greases or other products clean off with a soapy rag, or immerse all parts in warn water solution, use any available detergent.  Parts should be scrubbed gently and rinsed thoroughly.  Hang up by back D ring to air dry.   Contact your supervisor with any questions about any replacement parts.
Storage of Personal Fall Protection:
- All personal fall protection should be stored in the bag in a clean dry area.
- Recheck equipment before use.
Additional Types of Fall Protection Equipment:
- Warning Line Systems
- Safety Monitor
- Controlled Access Zone (CAZ)
Administrative Requirements of this Program:
- Enforcement
- Accident Investigations
- Changes to the Plan
- Emergencies
Ladder Safety
- A ladder or a ramp must be provided for employees to gain access where there is a break in
elevation of 19 inches or more.
- At least one point of access must be kept clear and free from debris and slipping and tripping hazards.
- All ladders used to gain access to any elevation, must extend up past the point of elevation by at least 36 inches (3 feet) and be secured into place.
- When 25 or more employees must use ladders to gain access to another elevation, two ladders must be provided, one for ascending and the other for descending or a double cleated ladder needs to be provided.
- Rungs of the ladder will not be any closer that 8 inches apart nor further than 12 inches apart.
- Ladders cannot be tied or fastened together.
- The minimum clearance between side rails (uprights) must not be less than 16 inches. 
- Ladders must be kept free of oil, grease, and other slipping hazards.
- Select the right ladder for the job.  Do not use a ladder with missing or defective rungs, split side rails or other weaknesses.
- Do not paint wood ladders as this may cover up defects.
Ascending and Descending: Employees must face the ladder and use both hands when going up and down ladders.  Materials and tools should be lowered or raised by a rope or other mechanical means. A three-point contact must be maintained on ladders at all times.
Placing and Securing
- The ladder should be placed so that it extends at least 3 feet beyond the top landing.  Make sure the base of the ladder is tied off or otherwise secured to prevent slipping or falling.
- Base of the ladder should be set out at least one fourth of the ladder height measured from bottom to point of bearing.
INSPECTIONS: After you have selected the proper ladder for the job, it should be inspected for defects before it is brought to the site or put in to use. The inspection should cover the following areas:
- Are the steps firmly anchored to the side rails?
- Is all hardware secured?  Are there any hinges loose or missing?
- Are there broken parts sticking out that could cause scrapes or cuts?
- Are the side rails free of cracks?
- Do the locks secure the base and fly sections of an extension ladder properly?
- Are the ropes for raising the fly section in good condition?
- Does the ladder have any oil, grease or any substances that may cause slipping?
- Are all rungs in perfect condition?
- Ladders cannot be tied or fastened together.
Any ladder that does not pass inspection should be tagged for maintenance and removed from service. This prevents a co-worker from accidentally using a damaged ladder.
3 Foot Rule
Extending the ladder three feet beyond the roof prevents you from tipping the ladder by stepping on one of the top steps.  Once the ladder is extended above the roof three feet it then needs to be secured in place.
Self-Supporting Ladders
- Self-supporting ladders or stepladders must be set up so that all legs are on solid ground and the spreaders are locked. 
- Do not use a self-supporting ladder as a straight ladder by leaning it against a structure.
Care and Maintenance: Ladders must be in good condition at all times, the joints and side rails must be tight and all hardware and fittings securely attached.  Ladders should operate freely without binding or undue play. 
- Ladders should not be placed in front of doors or walkways unless guarded or blocked off.
- Ladders that have been damaged should be tagged and taken out of service, until repairs can be made.
- Ladders cannot be tied or fastened together.
Extension Ladder
Step Ladder
Fall Protection and OSHA


What is fall protection?

Go to any construction site and watch those who are working above a lower level. Should they be wearing fall protection? Should they be protected by fall-protection systems? Should they be using fall-protection methods? Do they need fall-protection training? Are they following fall-protection rules? Fall protection is a concept that’s hard to describe. Ask 10 people what fall protection means and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. Is it possible to make sense of fall protection? We think so.

On a Friday in June, an estimator arrived at a remodel job to look at a cedar-shake roof and estimate
the cost of an addition that a construction crew was building. He spoke to the supervisor at the site and climbed to the roof through an open skylight, using a metal extension ladder.
However, he was unaware that the contractor had used a sheet of thin insulating material to cover three 2-by-6-foot skylight openings in the roof (it had rained the day before). He stepped onto the insulating material, fell through one of the skylights, and landed on his back, 15 feet below.
The supervisor and two subcontractors heard the estimator fall and rushed to the accident. One of the subcontractors used his cell phone to call emergency medical services. EMTs arrived about five minutes later, stabilized the victim and took him to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for spinal injuries.

On a frosty December morning in southern Oregon, three electricians were on a store rooftop installing electrical wiring for an air conditioning upgrade. They began reeling out no. 4 copper wire. The supervisor held the reel as the journeyman electrician walked backward
about 185 feet toward the edge of the roof, pulling and twisting the wire to straighten it.
When he got close to the edge of the flat roof, he stumbled and fell over the 12-inch parapet at the roof’s edge. He was able to grab onto the parapet with one hand, but fell before the supervisor could reach him.
He fell about 22 feet to the ground.
Another employee dialed 911 and went to the aid of the injured worker. The worker suffered a punctured lung, severe head injuries, a fractured knee, and broken ribs, clavicle, and wrists. It had been his first day on the job.

How should we protect ourselves from falling?

For many in the construction industry, fall-protection equipment is the first thing that comes to mind: personal fall-arrest systems, safety nets, or guardrails, for example. But fall protection means more than equipment. Fall protection is what you do to eliminate fall hazards, to prevent falls, and to ensure that workers who may fall aren’t injured.
You accomplish fall protection by doing the following:
- Make fall protection part of your workplace safety and health program.
- Identify and evaluate fall hazards.
- Eliminate fall hazards, if possible.
- Train workers to recognize fall hazards.
- Use appropriate equipment to prevent falls and to protect workers if they do fall.
- Inspect and maintain fall-protection equipment before and after using it.
- Become familiar with Subdivision 3/M fall-protection rules.

What is your fall-protection role?

Everyone involved in a construction project has a role to play in preventing falls.
- Employers. Identify fall hazards at the site. Eliminate the hazards, prevent falls from occurring, or ensure that if falls occur, employees aren’t injured. Make sure that employees follow safe practices and are trained to recognize fall hazards.
- Employees. Follow safe work practices, use equipment properly, and participate in training.
Learn to recognize unsafe practices, know the tasks that increase the risk of falling, and understand how to control exposure to fall hazards.
- Architects and engineers. Educate employers about hazards that could expose workers
to falls during each phase of the project. When designing buildings and structures, consider fall protection and other safety needs of those who will do the construction work.
- Building owners and managers. Ensure that those who do exterior construction or maintenance work know how to protect themselves from falls, are aware of installed anchorages, and know how to use their fall-protection equipment.
- Equipment manufacturers. Ensure that fall-protection equipment meets federal OSHA and ANSI safety requirements and protects workers when they use it properly. Warn workers through instruction manuals and on equipment labels about the danger of using equipment improperly.
- Lawyers. Review your client’s construction bids to ensure that they comply with Oregon OSHA requirements. The documents should clearly state the client’s responsibilities for protecting workers from falls and for identifying and controlling hazards that cause falls.

Make fall protection part of your workplace safety and health program.

A workplace safety and health program is what you and your co-workers do to achieve and maintain a safe, healthful workplace. There are as many types of safety and health programs as there are workplaces, but not all programs are successful. What makes a successful safety and health program? There are seven elements:
Commitment. All employees — including company executive officers, managers, and supervisors — are committed to making the program succeed.
Accountability. All employees — including company executive officers, managers, and supervisors — are held accountable for following safe work practices.
Involvement. All employees, including managers and supervisors, participate in making the program succeed.
Hazard identification. All employees are trained to identify hazards, and there are procedures for conducting hazard inspections and reporting hazards.
Accident investigation. Managers and supervisors promptly investigate all accidents and near misses, then determine how to eliminate their causes.
Training. All employees receive training in identifying workplace hazards and learning safe work practices.
Evaluation. Managers and supervisors, with help from other employees, evaluate the program’s strengths and weaknesses at least once a year.
Before you begin a construction project, think about the hazards workers may encounter and what you can do to keep them safe. A successful safety and health program will protect workers from falls.
Prepare a safety and health policy
Does your company have a written safety and health policy? It should. A written policy reflects commitment to a safe, healthful workplace, summarizes management and employee responsibilities, and emphasizes the safety and health program’s role in achieving that goal. Keep the policy brief, commit to it, and enforce it.

Designate competent persons and qualified persons

The competent person will be responsible for inspecting all fall protection equipment, barricades, and tie off points before use every day. Only qualified persons may use fall protection equipment. The competent person shall ensure that all personnel are trained in the use of fall protection equipment. No fall protection equipment may be in use unless the designated competent person is on site and able to supervise. A secondary competent person may be designated to ensure that a competent person is on site at times. The person that is serving as the competent person at any given time must be informed that they have been designated and are responsible for the fall protection at that specific time.
You’ll find activities throughout OSHA’s workplace safety and health rules that are required to be conducted by competent and qualified persons.
Competent person and qualified person are terms that federal OSHA created to designate individuals who have the training and expertise to evaluate hazardous conditions, inspect equipment, evaluate mechanical systems, or train others how to work safely.

Who can be competent and qualified persons? OSHA offers the following definitions:
- The competent person. “Competent person means one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” [1926.32(f)]

- The qualified person. “Qualified means one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing or who, by extensive knowledge, training, and experience,
has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.” [1926.32(m)]

Determining who can be a competent or qualified person.

Although federal OSHA defines competent and qualified persons, it doesn’t provide specifics for determining who can assume these roles. The following guidelines may help:
- Know the OSHA rules that apply to your workplace. The rules will tell you if you need to designate a competent or a qualified person.
- If an OSHA rule that applies to your workplace requires a competent or a qualified person, note duties and responsibilities that the rule requires the person to perform.
- If an  OSHA rule that applies to your workplace requires a competent person, that person must have the authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate hazards.
- Determine the knowledge, training, and experience the competent or qualified person needs to meet the rule’s requirements.
- Designate a person who has the knowledge, training, and experience that meets the rule’s requirements.
- Duties and responsibilities of competent and qualified persons required by Subdivision 3/M.

The competent person
- Serves as the monitor in a safety-monitoring system and is responsible for recognizing hazards that cause falls and warning workers about them.
- Determines that safety nets meet Subdivision 3/M requirements.
- Inspects a personal fall-arrest system after it arrests a fall and determines if the system is undamaged and can be used again.
- Evaluates any alteration in a personal fall-arrest system and determines if the system is safe to use.
- Supervises the installation of slide-guard systems.
- Trains employees to recognize hazards that cause falls and to follow procedures that minimize the hazards.

The qualified person
- Supervises design, installation, and use of horizontal lifeline systems to ensure that they can maintain a safety factor of at least two — twice the impact of a worker free-falling 6 feet.
- Supervises design, installation, and use of personal fall-restraint anchorages.
- Supervises design, installation, and use of personal fall-arrest anchorages.
- Makes a daily inspection of fall protection and fall prevention equipment and ensure it is in good working order and ready for use and meets requirements of OSHA and company policy. This includes the inspection of all areas where employees are expected to work that day. This inspection is to be logged in the Daily log. The competent person is not to allow any employee to work in an area that does not have adequate fall prevention or fall protection in place.

Each job site must have a designated competent person assigned.

How to evaluate fall hazards

The purpose of evaluating fall hazards is to determine how to eliminate or control them before they cause injuries. Below are important factors to consider in conducting an evaluation.
- Be sure to ask questions. Call one of the safety supervisors or safety managers for advice, call the Director of Safety and Loss Prevention for assistance. E Light Electric management is ready and available to assist you with your safety needs.
- Determine how workers will access elevated surfaces to perform their tasks. Will workers be using portable ladders, supported scaffolds, aerial lifts, or suspension platforms to reach their work areas? Which ones will they use? How and where will they use the equipment?
(Parts Four and Five describe the hazards associated with this equipment and how to use the equipment safely.)
- Identify tasks that could expose workers to falls. Using a set of work site plans, review the entire construction project. Evaluate each phase of the project from the ground up. Ensure that all walking/working surfaces have the strength to support workers and their equipment, then identify all tasks that could expose workers to falls. A walking/working surface is any surface, horizontal or vertical, on which a person walks or works.
- Identify hazardous work areas.
Determine if workers’ tasks could expose them to the following fall hazards:
- Holes in walking/working surfaces that they could step into or fall through.
- Elevated walking/working surfaces 10 feet or more above a lower level.
- Skylights and smoke domes that workers could step into or fall through.
- All openings such as those for windows or doors that workers could fall through.
- Trenches and other excavations that workers could fall into.
- Walking/working surfaces from which workers could fall onto dangerous equipment.
- Hoist areas where guardrails have been removed to receive materials.

Sides and edges of walking/working surfaces such as established floors, mezzanines, balconies, and walkways that are 6 feet or more above a lower level and not protected by guardrails at least 39 inches high.
Determine how frequently workers will do tasks that expose them to falls. The more frequently a worker is exposed to a fall hazard the more likely it is that the worker could fall.
Determine whether workers need to move horizontally, vertically, or in both directions to perform their tasks. How workers move to perform tasks can affect their risk of falling. Knowing how they move to perform tasks can help you determine how to protect them.
Determine the number of workers exposed to fall hazards. Generally, the more workers that are exposed to a fall hazard, the more likely it is one could fall.
Identify walking/working surfaces that could expose workers to fall hazards. Examples: floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, form work, beams, columns, trusses, and rebar.
Determine fall distances from walking/working surfaces to lower levels. Generally, workers must be protected from fall hazards on walking/working surfaces where they could fall 10 feet or more to a lower level.
However, workers must be protected from falls of 6 feet or more from any of the following:
- Holes and skylights in walking/working surfaces.
- Wall openings that have an inside bottom edge less than 39 inches above a walking/working surface.
- Established floors, mezzanines, balconies, and walkways with unprotected sides and edges.
- Excavations with edges that are not readily seen because of plant growth or other visual barriers.
- Wells, pits, shafts and similar excavations.
Workers must also be protected from falling onto or into dangerous equipment.
Ensure that existing guardrails and covers meet Subdivision 3/M requirements. Guardrails must be designed and built to meet the requirements of 1926.502(b).
Covers must meet the requirements of 1926.502(i). (See Part Six for more information on guardrail systems and covers.)
Identify fall hazards that you can eliminate. Eliminating a fall hazard is the most effective fall-protection strategy. Ways to eliminate fall hazards:
Perform construction work on the ground before lifting or tilting it to an elevated position.
Install permanent stairs early in the project so that workers don’t need to use ladders between floors.
Use tool extensions to perform work from the ground.

Identify fall hazards that you can’t eliminate. If you can’t eliminate fall hazards, you need to prevent falls or control them so that workers who may fall are not injured.
Ways to prevent falls include covers, guardrails, handrails, perimeter safety cables, and personal fall-restraint systems.
Ways to control falls include personal fall-arrest systems, positioning-device systems, and safety-net systems. Use these fall-protection systems only when you can’t eliminate fall hazards or prevent falls from occurring.
Consider administrative practices. Administrative practices help prevent falls by influencing the way people work. Examples include substituting a safe work practice for a risky one, training
workers how to do their jobs safely, and disciplining those who don’t follow safe practices.
Determine whether anchorages are necessary. If workers use personal fall-arrest or restraint systems, they’ll need secure anchorages for their lifelines or lanyards. Anchorages for personal fall-arrest systems must be able to support at least 5,000 pounds per attached worker or be designed with a safety factor of at least two — twice the impact force of a worker free-falling 6 feet. Anchorages for personal fall-restraint systems must be able to support at least 5,000 pounds per attached worker or be designed with a safety factor of at least two — twice the peak anticipated dynamic load.
Consider other factors that could increase the risk of falls. Consider the environment. Will workers’ tasks expose them to overhead power lines? Will they need to use scaffolds, ladders, or aerial lifts on unstable or uneven ground? Will they be working during hot, cold, or windy weather? Consider ergonomics. Will workers need to frequently lift, bend, or move in ways that put them off balance? Will they be working extended shifts that could contribute to fatigue?

Summary: evaluating fall hazards

Training Department
This page was last updated: July 18, 2017
Click here to see OSHA interpretations concerning Fall Protection
The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface (see diagram).
Proper Angle for Extension Ladders
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