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Requirements For The Design Of Standard, Spiral & Alternating Tread Type Stairs

Standard Stairs

The employer must ensure standard stairs installed after January 17, 2017:

  • Are installed at angles between 30 to 50 degrees from the horizontal;
  • Have a maximum riser height of 9.5 inches (24 cm);
  • Have a minimum tread depth of 9.5 inches (24 cm); and
  • Have a minimum width of 22 inches (56 cm) between vertical barriers.

Spiral Stairs

The employer must ensure spiral stairs:

  • have a minimum clear width of 26 inches (66 cm)
  • have a maximum riser height of 9.5 inches (24 cm)
  • have a minimum headroom above spiral stair treads of at least 6 feet, 6 inches (2 m), measured from the leading edge of the tread
  • have a minimum tread depth of 7.5 inches (19 cm), measured at a point 12 inches (30 cm) from the narrower edge • have a uniform tread size

Alternating Tread-Type Stairs

The employer must ensure alternating tread-type stairs:

  • have a series of treads installed at a slope of 50 to 70 degrees from the horizontal
  • have a distance between handrails of 17 to 24 inches (51 to 61 cm)
  • have a minimum tread depth of 8.5 inches (22 cm); and have open risers if the tread depth is less than 9.5 inches (24 cm)
  • have a minimum tread width of 7 inches (18 cm), measured at the leading edge of the tread (i.e., nosing)

Guidelines For The Safe Use Of Dockboards

Dockboards

The employer must ensure that:

Dockboards are capable of supporting the maximum intended load;

  • Dockboards put into initial service on or after January 17, 2017 are designed, constructed, and maintained to prevent transfer vehicles from running off the dockboard edge;
  • Exception: When the employer demonstrates there is no hazard of transfer vehicles running off the dockboard edge, the employer may use dockboards that do not have run-off protection.

Portable dockboards are secured by anchoring them in place or using equipment or devices that prevent the dockboard from moving out of a safe position. When the employer demonstrates that securing the dockboard is not feasible, the employer must ensure there is sufficient contact between the dockboard and the surface to prevent the dockboard from moving out of a safe position;

3Measures, such as wheel chocks or sand shoes, are used to prevent the transport vehicle (e.g. a truck, semitrailer, trailer, or rail car) on which a dockboard is placed, from moving while employees are on the dockboard; and

4Portable dockboards are equipped with handholds or other means to permit safe handling of dockboards.

The employer must ensure that each employee on a dockboard is protected from falling 4 feet (1.2 m) or more to a lower level by a guardrail system or handrails, unless:

  • Dockboards are being used solely for materials-handling operations using motorized equipment;
  • Employees engaged in these operations are not exposed to fall hazards greater than 10 feet (3 m); and • Those employees have been trained in accordance with OSHA Standard 1910.30.

Requirements For Rope Descent System Use, Capacity, Care, And Maintenance

Scaffold and Rope Descent Systems

Scaffolds

Scaffolds used in general industry must meet the requirements in 29 CFR part 1926, subpart L, Scaffolds.

Rope Descent Systems

The employer must ensure:

  • Before any rope descent system is used, the building owner must inform the employer, in writing that the building owner has identified, tested, certified, and maintained each anchorage so it can support at least 5,000 pounds (2268 kg), in any direction, for each employee attached.
  • All components of each rope descent system, except seat boards, are capable of sustaining a minimum rated load of 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN). Seat boards must be capable of supporting a live load of 300 pounds (136 kg);
  • The employer must ensure that no employee uses any anchorage before the employer has obtained written information from the building owner that each anchorage meets OSHA requirements.
  • No rope descent system is used for heights greater than 300 feet (91 m) above grade unless the employer demonstrates that it is not feasible to access such heights by any other means or that those means pose a greater hazard than using a rope descent system;
  • The rope descent system is used in accordance with instructions, warnings, and design limitations set by the manufacturer or under the direction of a qualified person;
  • Each employee who uses the rope descent system is trained in accordance with OSHA 1910.30;
  • The rope descent system is inspected at the start of each workshift that it is to be used. The employer must ensure damaged or defective equipment is removed from service immediately and replaced.

The employer must ensure:

  • The rope descent system has proper rigging, including anchorages and tiebacks, with particular emphasis on providing tiebacks when counterweights, cornice hooks, or similar non-permanent anchorages are used;
  • Each employee uses a separate, independent personal fall arrest system (PFAS) that meets the requirements of 1910 Subpart I, Personal Protective Equipment;
  • Prompt rescue of each employee is provided in the event of a fall; ]
  • The ropes of each rope descent system are effectively padded or otherwise protected, where they can contact edges of the building, anchorage, obstructions, or other surfaces, to prevent them from being cut or weakened;
  • Stabilization is provided at the specific work location when descents are greater than 130 feet (39.6 m);
  • No employee uses a rope descent system when hazardous weather conditions, such as storms or gusty or excessive wind, are present;
  • Equipment, such as tools, squeegees, or buckets, is secured by a tool lanyard or similar method to prevent it from falling; and
  • The ropes of each rope descent system are protected from exposure to open flames, hot work, corrosive chemicals, and other destructive conditions.

Training & Retraining Requirements For The Hazards Associated With Falls

Training

The employer must provide information and training to each employee prior to exposure to hazards and in a manner that the employee understands.

Fall Hazards

Before any employee is exposed to a fall hazard, the employer must provide training for each employee who uses personal fall protection systems. The employer must ensure that each employee is trained by a qualified person. The employer must train each employee in at least the following topics:

  • The nature of the fall hazards and how to recognize them;
  • The procedures to be followed to minimize hazards;
  • The correct procedures for using, installing, inspecting, operating, maintaining, disassembling, and storing personal fall protection systems.

Equipment Hazards

The employer must train each employee on the proper care, inspection, storage, and use of equipment, including dockboards, rope descent systems, and designated area set-up and use, before an employee uses the equipment.

Retraining

The employer must retrain an employee when the employer has reason to believe the employee does not have adequate understanding and skill. Retraining should also be conducted annually if employees do not perform operations regularly that require fall protection. Situations requiring retraining include the following:

  • When changes in the workplace render previous training obsolete or inadequate;
  • When changes in the types of fall protection systems or equipment to be used render previous training obsolete or inadequate; or
  • When inadequacies in an affected employee’s knowledge or use of fall protection systems or equipment indicate that the employee no longer has the requisite understanding or skill necessary to use equipment or perform the job safely.

Three Primary Fall Protection Systems For Use While Working At Heights

The employer must provide and install all fall protection systems and falling object protection before any employee begins work that necessitates fall or falling object protection.

Unprotected Sides and Edges

The employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by one or more of the following:

  • guardrail systems;
  • safety net systems; or
  • personal fall protection systems, such as personal fall arrest, travel restraint, or positioning systems.

When the employer can demonstrate it is not feasible or creates a greater hazard to use guardrail, safety net, or personal fall protection systems on residential roofs, the employer must develop and implement a fall protection plan and training.

  • The work operation for which fall protection is infeasible is in process;
  • Access to the platform is limited to authorized employees; and,
  • The authorized employees are trained in accordance with OSHA Standard 1910.30.

Hoist Areas

The employer must ensure:

Each employee in a hoist area is protected from falling 4 feet (1.2 m) or more to a lower level by:

  • A guardrail system;
  • A personal fall arrest system; or
  • A travel restraint system.

When any portion of a guardrail system, gate, or chains is removed, and an employee must lean through or over the edge of the access opening to facilitate hoisting, the employee should be protected from falling by a personal fall arrest system.

If grab handles are installed at hoist areas, they must meet the requirements of OSHA Standard 1910.29(l).

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

Holes

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.”

Safety Guidelines While Climbing Fixed Ladders

Fixed Ladders

For fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet (7.3 m) above a lower level, the employer must ensure:
  • Existing fixed ladders: Each fixed ladder installed before November 19, 2018 is equipped with a personal fall arrest system, ladder safety system, cage, or well;
  • New fixed ladders: Each fixed ladder installed on and after November 19, 2018, is equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system;
  • Replacement: When a fixed ladder, cage, or well, or any portion of a section thereof, is replaced, a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system is installed in at least that section of the fixed ladder, cage, or well where the replacement is located; and
  • Final deadline: On and after November 18, 2036, all fixed ladders are equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system. Example: Ladder Vertical Lifeline System.
When a one-section fixed ladder is equipped with a personal fall protection or a ladder safety system or a fixed ladder is equipped with a personal fall arrest or ladder safety system on more than one section, the employer must ensure:
  • The personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system provides protection throughout the entire vertical distance of the ladder, including all ladder sections; and
  • The ladder has rest platforms provided at maximum intervals of 150 feet (45.7 m).
The employer must ensure ladder sections having a cage or well if:
  • Are offset from adjacent sections; and
  • Have landing platforms provided at maximum intervals of 50 feet (15.2 m). The employer may use a cage or well in combination with a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system provided that the cage or well does not interfere with the operation of the system.

Stairway Guardrail, Stair Rail, & Hand Rail Requirements

Fall Protection Systems

General Requirements

The employer must provide and install all fall protection systems and falling object protection before any employee begins work that necessitates fall or falling object protection.

Guardrail Systems

The employer must ensure guardrail systems meet the following requirements: 1. Top rails: The top edge height of top rails must be 42 inches (107 cm), plus or minus 3 inches (8 cm), above the walking-working surface. 2. Midrails: Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, solid panels, or equivalent intermediate members must be installed between the walking-working surface and the top edge of the guardrail system as follows when there is not a wall or parapet that is at least 21 inches (53 cm) high:
  • Midrails are installed at a height midway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking-working surface;
  • Screens and mesh extend from the walking-working surface to the top rail and along the entire opening between top rail supports;
  • Intermediate vertical members (such as balusters) are installed no more than 19 inches (48 cm) apart; and
  • Other equivalent intermediate members (such as additional midrails and architectural panels) are installed so that the openings are not more than 19 inches (48 cm) wide.
3. Guardrail systems must be able to withstand an outward or downward force of at least 200 pounds. 4. Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, solid panels, etc., must be able to withstand an outward or downward force of at least 150 pounds. 5. The ends of top rails and midrails must not overhang the terminal posts if they pose a projection hazard. 6. Steel banding and plastic banding must not be used for top rails or midrails. 7. Top rails and midrails must be at least 0.25-inches (0.6 cm) in diameter or in thickness. 8. When guardrail systems are used at hoist areas, a removable guardrail section must be placed across the access opening when employees are not performing hoisting operations. 9. When guardrail systems are used around holes, they must be installed on all unprotected sides or edges of the hole. 10. When materials are passed through holes, at least two sides of the hole must be protected by guardrails. 11. When guardrail systems are used around holes that serve as points of access (such as ladderways), the guardrail system opening must have a self-closing gate or be offset to prevent an employee from walking into the hole. Note: The criteria and practices requirements for guardrail systems on scaffolds are contained in 29 CFR part 1926, subpart L. Safety Net Systems The employer must ensure each safety net system meets the requirements in 29 CFR part 1926, subpart M.

Stairways

The employer must ensure the following:
  • Each employee exposed to an unprotected side or edge of a stairway landing that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected by a guardrail or stair rail system;
  • Each ship stairs and alternating tread type stairs is equipped with handrails on both sides; and
  • Each flight of stairs having at least 3 treads and at least 4 risers is equipped with stair rail systems and handrails according to the table below:
Stairways

Handrails and Stair Rail Systems

A handrail is a horizontal or sloping rail intended for grasping by the hand for guidance or support. A stair rail is a guard along the open side or sides of a stairway. The employer must ensure:

Height criteria

Handrails are not less than 30 inches (76 cm) and not more than 38 inches (97 cm), as measured from the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the handrail. The height of stair rail systems meets the following:
  • The height of stair rail systems installed before January 17, 2017 is not less than 30 inches (76 cm) from the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the top rail; and
  • The height of stair rail systems installed on or after January 17, 2017 is not less than 42 inches (107 cm) from the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the top rail.
The top rail of a stair rail system may serve as a handrail only when: The height of the stair rail system is not less than 36 inches (91 cm) and not more than 38 inches (97 cm) as measured at the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the top rail; and The top rail of the stair rail system meets the other handrail requirements above.

Safety Requirements While Working On Low Slope Roofs, Including The Use Of Designated Areas

Work on Low-Slope Roofs

The following information involves roofs with slope of 3:12 (14 degrees) or less. When work is performed less than 6 feet (1.6 m) from the roof edge, the employer must ensure each employee is protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest system. When work is performed at least 6 feet (1.6 m) but less than 15 feet (4.6 m) from the roof edge, the employer must ensure each employee is protected from falling by using a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest system. The employer may use a designated area when performing work that is both infrequent and temporary. When work is performed 15 feet (4.6 m) or more from the roof edge, the employer must:
  • Protect each employee from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest system or a designated area. The employer is not required to provide any fall protection, provided the work is both infrequent and temporary; and
  • Implement and enforce a work rule prohibiting employees from going within 15 feet (4.6 m) of the roof edge without using fall protection.

Designated Areas

When the employer uses a designated area, the employer must ensure:
  • Employees remain within the designated area while work operations are underway; and
  • The perimeter of the designated area is delineated with a warning line consisting of a rope, wire, tape, or chain that meets the requirements of this section.
Each warning line must have a minimum breaking strength of 200 pounds (0.89 kN). The lowest point of the line must not be less than 34 inches (86 cm) and not more than 39 inches (99 cm) above the walking-working surface. The warning line must be erected not less than:
  • 6 feet (1.8 m) from the roof edge for work that is both temporary and infrequent,
  • 10 feet (3 m) from the perpendicular unprotected edge from mobile mechanical equipment, or
  • 15 feet (4.6 m) for other work.
The warning line must be clearly visible from a distance of 25 feet (7.6 m) away, and anywhere within the designated area.

Covers

The employer must ensure each cover for a hole in a walking-working surface:
  • Is capable of supporting without failure, at least twice the maximum intended load that may be imposed on the cover at any one time; and
  • Is secured to prevent accidental displacement.

Safe Practices When Using Fixed Ladders

Fixed Ladder Safety Systems

The employer must ensure:
  • Each ladder safety system allows the employee to climb up and down using both hands and does not require that the employee continuously hold, push, or pull any part of the system while climbing;
  • The connection between the carrier or lifeline and the point of attachment to the body harness or belt does not exceed 9 inches (23 cm);
  • Mountings for rigid carriers are attached at each end of the carrier, with intermediate mountings spaced, as necessary, along the entire length of the carrier so the system has the strength to stop employee falls;
  • Mountings for flexible carriers are attached at each end of the carrier and cable guides for flexible carriers are installed at least 25 feet (7.6 m) apart but not more than 40 feet (12.2 m) apart along the entire length of the carrier;
  • The design and installation of mountings and cable guides does not reduce the design strength of the ladder; and
  • Ladder safety systems and their support systems are capable of withstanding, without failure, a drop test consisting of an 18-inch (41-cm) drop of a 500-pound (227-kg) weight.