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How Fall Protection Systems Used To Protect Employees Working Around Holes, Openings, Runways & Ramps

Holes

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Four feet or above. The employer must ensure each employee is protected from falling through any hole (including skylights) that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level by one or more of the following:

  • Covers;
  • guardrail systems;
  • travel restraint systems; or
  • personal fall arrest systems.

Below four feet. Each employee must be protected from tripping into or stepping into or through any hole that is less than 4 feet (1.2 m) above a lower level by one of the following:

  • covers; or
  • guardrail systems.

Stairway floor holes: Each employee must be protected from falling into a stairway floor hole by a fixed guardrail system on all exposed sides, except at the stairway entrance. However, for any stairway used less than once per day where traffic across the stairway floor hole prevents the use of a fixed guardrail system the employer may protect employees from falling into the hole by using a hinged floor hole cover that meets the criteria in OSHA Standard 1910.29 and a removable guardrail system on all exposed sides, except at the entrance to the stairway.

Ladderway holes: Each employee must be protected from falling into a ladderway floor hole or ladderway platform hole by a guardrail system and toeboards erected on all exposed sides, except at the entrance to the hole, where a self-closing gate or an offset must be used.

Hatchway and chute floor holes: Each employee is protected from falling through a hatchway and chute floor hole by:

  • A hinged floor-hole cover and a fixed guardrail system that leaves only one exposed side. When the hole is not in use, the employer must ensure the cover is closed or a removable guardrail system is provided on the exposed sides;
  • A removable guardrail system and toeboards on not more than two sides of the hole and a fixed guardrail system on all other exposed sides. The employer must ensure the removable guardrail system is kept in place when the hole is not in use; or
  • A guardrail system or a travel restraint system when a work operation necessitates passing material through a hatchway or chute floor hole.

Runways and Similar Walkways

The employer must ensure each employee on a runway or similar walkway is protected from falling 4 feet (1.2 m) or more to a lower level by a guardrail system. When the employer can demonstrate that it is not feasible to have guardrails on both sides of a runway used exclusively for a special purpose, the employer may omit the guardrail on one side of the runway, provided the employer ensures:

  • The runway is at least 18 inches (46 cm) wide; and
  • Each employee is provided with and uses a personal fall arrest system or travel restraint system.

Openings

The employer must ensure each employee on a walking-working surface near an opening where the inside bottom edge of the opening is less than 39 inches (99 cm) above that walking working surface and the outside bottom edge of the opening is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by the use of:

  • Guardrail systems;
  • safety net systems;
  • travel restraint systems; or,
  • personal fall arrest systems.

Dangerous Equipment

Employees must be protected from falling into dangerous equipment while working at any height.

Work under 4 feet: The employer must ensure that each employee less than 4 feet (1.2 m) above dangerous equipment is protected from falling into or onto the dangerous equipment by a guardrail system or a travel restraint system, unless the equipment is covered or guarded to eliminate the hazard.

Work at 4 feet or more: Each employee 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above dangerous equipment must be protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

Repair, Service, and Assembly Pits Less Than 10 Feet Deep

The use of a fall protection system is not required for a repair pit, service pit, or assembly pit that is less than 10 feet (3 m) deep, provided the employer:

  • Limits access within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the edge of the pit to authorized employees trained in accordance with OSHA Standard 1910.30;
  • Applies floor markings at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from the edge of the pit in colors that contrast with the surrounding area; or places a warning line at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from the edge of the pit as well as stanchions that are capable of resisting, without tipping over, a force of at least 16 pounds (71 N) applied horizontally against the stanchion at a height of 30 inches (76 cm); or places a combination of floor markings and warning lines at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from the edge of the pit. When two or more pits in a common area are not more than 15 feet (4.5m) apart, the employer may comply by placing contrasting floor markings at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from the pit edge around the entire area of the pits; and
  • Posts readily visible caution signs that meet the requirements of OSHA Standard 1910.145, Specifications for accident prevention signs and tags, and state “CautionOpen Pit.”
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