OSHA's Top Five Fall Protection Violations

Each year, falls account for the greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry, and are always a major concern in other industries. This handout discusses the top five fall protection violations that OSHA inspectors constantly find not being followed-or fol­lowed incorrectly-at construction jobsites.

These OSHA citations cover general fall protection. They do not cover falls from scaffolds, aerial lifts, steel erection, etc. Those subjects have their own fall protection rules.

#1 - Unprotected sides and edges

Each employee on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge 6 feet or more above a lower level must be protected from falling by the use of guardrail, safety net, or personal fall arrest systems.

#2 - Training requirements

Your employer must provide a training program if you might be exposed to fall hazards.

The program must:

·         Enable you to recognize the fall hazards specific to your jobsite.

·         Train you in the procedures to follow to minimize those
haz­ards.

#3 - Roofing work on low-slope roofs

Except as otherwise provided in the OSHA regula­tions, if you are working on a low-slope roof, with unprotected sides and edges 6 feet or more above a lower level, you must be protected from falling by a guardrail, safety net, or personal fall arrest system.

You can also use a combination of a warning line and: (1) guardrail, (2) safety net, (3) per­sonal fall arrest, or (4) safety monitoring system. Or, on roofs 50-feet wide or less, you can use a safety monitoring system alone.

#4 - Holes

If you are on a walking/working surface more than 6 feet above a lower level with holes (including skylights), you must be protected from falling through those holes by per­sonal fall arrest equipment, a covers, or a guardrail erected around the hole.

If you are below a hole, you must be protected from objects falling through the hole (includ­ing skylights) by a cover.

#5 - Residential construction

Except as otherwise provided in the OSHA rules, when you are engaged in residential construction activities 6 feet or more above lower levels, you must be protected by a guardrail, safety net, or personal fall arrest system.

If your employer can demonstrate that it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard to use one of the above systems, they can develop and implement a fall protection plan meeting the requirements of paragraph .502(k) of the fall protection regulations.

Events surrounding falls often involve a number of factors, including unstable working sur­faces, misuse of fall protection equipment, and human error. Studies have shown that the use of guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers, and travel restriction systems can prevent many deaths and injuries from falls.