Environmental Health & Safety

Fall Protection – The Basics

29 CFR 1926.500

Employers must provide fall protection equipment and appropriate training for their employees. The General Contractor shall be responsible for their employees and sub-contractors, and shall have a “competent person” on-site at all times. The fall protection system, including guardrails, personal arrest devices and the walk/work surfaces must have the strength/structural integrity to support all of the employees using same, with a minimum safety factor of 2. Information provided here-in is a guide, and shall not be considered as all-inclusive.
All surfaces, > 6’ above a lower level (ground, platform, roof etc.) must have a fall protection system such as a guardrail (inclusive of ladder jack scaffolds), personal fall arrest of a safety net.

  • Safety nets must be approved by an engineer or fall protection specialist.

Elevated Surfaces (>6’) on which material is placed above the level of the toe board, shall have screens, mesh, solid panels and appropriate supports, capable of withstanding a force of 150lbs, applied out or down.
Excavations including trenches that are > 6’ in depth shall have a guardrail system, fence or other suitable barricade. If using a rope or caution tape to protect the opening, the rope must be a minimum of 6’ from the opening, in order for it to meet the requirements of a “warning” line. A rope must have highly visible flags in place, spaced not more than 6’ from each other
Hoist Areas, when used by employees to receive equipment or materials to an elevated surface, shall have a guardrail in place or be attached to a fall arrest system to prevent employees from falling through the opening.
Holes (including skylights) and Dangerous Equipment shall be protected by a guardrail or fall arrest system to prevent personnel from falling into or through. Any hole > 2” in diameter, in a walk/work surface must be covered or otherwise protected to prevent items from falling through, to a lower level.

  • Guardrail systems, used at holes, must be erected on all unprotected sides or edges of the hole.
  • If material is passed through a hole or opening, the opening must be closed or guarded when not in use.
  • Guardrails around points of access, such as a ladderway, shall have a gate or be off-set to prevent fall.

Overhand Bricklaying and related work must include proper fall protection. Fall protection for overhand bricklaying can include, guardrails, fall arrest systems and/or a “controlled access zone”. If overhand bricklaying requires having to reach down >10” then guardrails, personal fall arrest and/or safety nets must be used.
Personal Fall Arrest Systems, including lifelines shall be designed, installed and used under the supervision of a qualified person. All parts of the fall arrest systems shall be “approved/compatible”, properly maintained, cleaned and the stored (dry), when not in use. PFAS can not be attached to a guardrail system or hoist.
Positioning Devices shall be placed in a manner to limit free fall to 2’, and shall be anchored to a point that will support at least twice the impact load of the employee’s fall or 3,000lbs, whichever is greater.
Ramps, Stairs and Walkways shall have guardrail systems when the elevated surface is either > 3 steps, or > 6’ above a lower level.
Roofing (low slope) must have a fall protection system. The use of guardrails, fall arrest systems, warning lines (flagged every 6’) and/or a “Safety Monitor” can be used. A safety monitor can be used on a roof that is < 50’. The safety monitor must wear a reflective vest and/or blue hard hat to identify their sole function/responsibility. Roof Monitors at Amherst College shall not be responsible for more than 6 persons working in a site specific area, at one time, and shall work in any area without noise from equipment or other similar distractions. A roof monitor shall stop or warn personnel if they are working at risk, or otherwise unsafe.
Roofing (steep slope) shall be protected on all open sides > 6’ with a guardrail system, including toeboards, such as a scaffold/staging system, a fall arrest system and/or approved safety net.
Wall Openings including waste chutes, where the outside bottom edge of the wall opening is < 39” above the walk/work surface, shall be protected with a fall protection system. Chute openings must have “stops” to prevent equipment from falling through the opening.
Warning Lines must be flagged every 6’ with highly visible material, not be allowed to sag below 34” and have stanchions that will withstand a force of at least 16 lbs.