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OSHA 1910.29: Fall Protection Systems and Falling Object Protection – Criteria and Practices

“Safety Rail Company manufactures the SRC360 Mobile Railing System, a free-standing, non-penetrating railing system that complies with OSHA 1910.28 and 1910.29, qualifying as a passive barrier system between the worker and fall hazard. This engineered, fall-protection system ranks high in OSHA’s hierarchy of controls when addressing fall hazards. Engineered solutions are the most favored course of preventative action over implementing some sort of administrative or PPE protocol for controlling worker exposures. Passive barrier systems do not require significant training or compliance protocols associated with administrative or active fall protection solutions. In low-slope, commercial roofing applications, the SRC360 is an ideal solution for fall hazard areas and can be left in place permanently to protect all trades that access the roof.”

Safety Rail Company, www.safetyrailcompany.com, 888-434-2720

It’s no secret that falls from heights are a leading cause of serious work-related injuries and deaths. OSHA attributes the majority of the 13 or so workplace fatalities that occur in U.S. every day to falls. To help prevent this type of incident, employers, property owners and managers must set up work areas to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.

OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

1910.29 separates low-slope roofs into three zones. (A low-slope roof is defined as a roof that has a slope of less than four inches of fall over 12 horizontal inches.) Fall protection options are based upon the distance that the work is being performed from the edge of a roof, including:

  • Zone 1: For work being performed more than 15 feet from the edge
  • Zone 2: For work being performed between six feet and 15 feet from the edge
  • Zone 3: For work performed less than six feet from the edge

Key Provisions

1910.29 contains very specific requirements for a variety of fall protection structures, including guardrails (top edge height of top rails, strength criteria, where midrails must be installed, screen and mesh specifications, etc.); Guardrail systems at hoist areas and holes; handrail and stair rail systems (measurements, finger clearances, surface types and dimensions of handrails); cages, wells, and platforms used with fixed ladders (design, construction and maintenance to permit easy access to, and egress from, the ladder that they enclose).

Employers must:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.

Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.

For More Information

The Numbers

Citations regarding this standard by Federal OSHA for inspections during the period October 2021 through September 2022:

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