Fall Protection Regulations

Fall Protection Regulations for Wood-Frame Construction

Construction industry management must be responsible for fall protection regulations to prevent accidents and avoid costly and reputation damaging Cal-OSHA citations. A rise in falls due to lack of fall protection and recent changes in regulations for light-frame residential construction means more targeted random jobsite inspections industry wide.

Federal OSHA, as well as Cal-OSHA, has found a high proportion of fatalities caused by falls occurred because of a lack of fall protection. Falls on the job site can cause great injury plus recovery time, psychological stress on the work crew, the construction company, and the workers’ families as well as loss of confidence in the company.

All Job Sites Must Have Fall Protection Plan

Workers have the right to safe and healthful working conditions. The following precautions must be included in any fall protection plan. The following regulations outline fall protection needs on post-frame construction sites and personal fall arrest system options to protect workers on roofs.

When conventional fall-protection is not possible or might create a greater hazard, a written plan addressing fall protection issues must meet these requirements:

– Must be in writing, site-specific or by style/model and must maintained on site
– Must be prepared by a qualified person and maintained by a competent person
– Must include all measures addressing fall hazards.

Personal fall arrest systems

A personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) is an active system connected to the worker that is made of three parts: an engineer approved anchorage, a lifeline or lanyard and a body harness.

Whenever an employee can fall six feet or more onto a lower level, fall protection options must include:

– A guardrail system, a safety net system, or a personal fall arrest system
– Fences, barricades, covers, equipment guards or a controlled access zone
– Protection from holes and from having objects fall from above.

Wood Structures and Fall Arrest Anchors

OSHA established these anchorage design requirements for fall protection systems on wood structures:

– 1926.502(d)(15) Anchorages used for attachment of personal fall arrest equipment shall be independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms and capable of supporting at least 5,000 lbs (22.2 kN) per employee attached, or shall be designed, installed and used as follows:
– 1926.502(d)(15)(i) As part of a complete personal fall arrest system which maintains a safety factor of at least two; and
– 1926.502(d)(15)(ii) Under the supervision of a qualified person.

According to the definitions given in OSHA 1926.32(m):

“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. CSG’s recommendation is that the Structural Engineer (SE) of record for the project should be the “qualified” person.

In addition, OSHA limits the maximum arresting force that can be applied to an employee:

– 1926.502(d)(16) Personal fall arrest systems, when stopping a fall, shall
– 1926.502(d)(16)(ii) limit maximum arresting force on an employee to 1,800 lbs. (8 kN) when used with a body harness.

However, few wood structures can carry 5,000 pounds applied by commercially available fall arrest anchors. Here 1926.502(d)(15)(i) refers to a complete personal fall arrest system designed for a maximum arresting force (MAF) that must be less than 1,800 pounds.

Determine Maximum Arresting Force

The MAF is determined through testing of the PFAS. Anywhere the load can be measured, field tests involve using a weight of about 200 pounds to be sure the structure does not collapse, that the weight or a manikin remains suspended, and the weight or manikin does not strike any parts of the structure or a lower floor.

Another way to determine the MAF is based on a set of equations for calculating the MAF from a vertical fall arrest load or a horizontal lifeline. These equations are based on the material of the lifeline, the distance fallen before the PFAS rope becomes tight, or self-retracting lifeline (SRL) stops, and the effect of the shock absorber in the lanyard. The calculated MAF value should be multiplied by two to comply with the OSHA standards listed above.

Assuming the use of an SRL reduces free-fall distance to two feet or less, the calculated MAF ranges from 375 to 750 lbs., or 750 to 1,500 lbs. with the safety factor of two. Most SRLs are rated for 900 lbs, greater than the MAF calculated (C. Link, of ITAC Fall Protection Systems, personal communication, 2013). Here the safety factor of two then the design load is 1,800 lbs. The choice of an MAF value is made by the SE and should include an understanding of the safety equipment as well as any adverse conditions such as weather.


Is your Project Structural Engineer experienced with determining the factors necessary to develop a compliant fall protection plan?

CSG provides inspections, testing and consulting up to full design & building services. CSG products exceed the highest regulatory standards and are installed to provide for exterior cleaning in a safe and cost effective manner.

CSG Safety Services can provide:

Jobsite-Specific Fall Protection Plan
Temporary anchorages for fall protection on wood framed structures
Permanent anchorages for meeting the Cal-OSHA tie-back requirements
Field Load Testing and Proof of design testing for Fall Protection plan validation
Fall Protection Consulting
Structural Engineering Consulting for Fall Protection Plans
Structural Engineering Third Party Review Services for Fall Protection Plans

About CSG Safety Services Group, LLC:

CSG Safety Services Group, LLC designs and installs window washing systems nationwide. CSG provides inspections, testing and certifications for all window cleaning equipment. CSG provides consulting up to full design/build services. The CSG Safety Services Group promotes window washing system solutions with safety, usability, and cost effectiveness in mind. http://windowwashingsystems.com/


References

Ellis, J. N. (2012). Introduction to Fall Protection (4th ed.). Des Plaines, Ill.: American Society of Safety Engineers.

Kaskutas, V., & Hunsberger, K. 2013. Residential fall protection case study—Habitat for Humanity St. Louis. Wood Design Focus. 23(1), 6-13.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Safety and Health Regulations in Construction 1926.502. Fall protection systems criteria and practices. Retrieved February 12, 2013, from www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=10758&p_table=STANDARDS

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2011). Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2013, from www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0250.pdf

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