Fall Protection

Policy

All University employees working six feet or more above a lower level shall be protected from fall hazards and falling objects in accordance with this policy.

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Scope

The following systems and procedures have been designed to prevent employees from falling off, onto, or through working levels. Areas covered by this policy include, but are not limited to:

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Authority and Responsibility

Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for:

  • Developing, implementing, and updating the University’s Fall Protection program;
  • Reporting all questionable conditions discovered to the responsible department;
  • Inspecting all building specific equipment quarterly;
  • Coordinating outside contractors for the inspection and certification of the Administration Building system; and
  • Providing general fall protection training.

Departments affected by this policy are responsible for:

  • Ensuring all affected employees are trained in fall protection;
  • Ensuring all affected employees follow the described practices within this policy;
  • Purchasing all appropriate fall protection equipment and related safety devices;
  • Contacting Environmental Health and Safety for access to the Administration Building roof;
  • Obtaining a permit from Environmental Health and Safety for roof work on the Gerald Ratner Athletic Center;
  • Taking the appropriate corrective action in accordance with the University of Chicago’s Personnel Policy on Progressive Corrective Action, Section U703 for employees not following this policy; and
  • Ensuring all inspection and maintenance practices for fall protection equipment are followed in accordance with this policy.

Employees are responsible for complying with the practices within the Fall Protection Policy.

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General Requirements

This standard, 29 CFR 1926.500-503, describes the duty to provide fall protection, sets the criteria and practices for all fall protection systems and the required training. It covers hazard assessment, fall protection, and safety monitoring systems. Also addressed, are controlled access zones and guardrails, personal fall arrest, warning line system, and positioning device systems.

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Controlled Access Zones

Controlled access zones, when created to limit entrance to areas where leading edge work and other operations are taking place, shall be defined by a controlling line or other means that restricts access. Control lines shall consist of ropes, wires, tapes or equivalent material, supporting stanchions, and each shall:

  • Be flagged or otherwise clearly marked at not more than six foot intervals with high visibility material;
  • Be rigged and supported in such a way that the lowest point (including sag) is not less than 39 inches from the walking/working surface and the highest point is not more than 50 inches;
  • Be strong enough to sustain stress of not less than 200 pounds;
  • Extend along the entire length of the unprotected leading edge and shall be parallel to the unprotected or leading edge; and
  • Be connected on each side to a guardrail system or wall.

When control lines are used they shall be erected not less than six feet and no more than 25 feet from the unprotected or leading edge, except when precast concrete members are being erected. In the latter case, the control line shall be erected not less than six feet and no more than 60 feet or half the length of the member being erected, whichever is less, from the leading edge.

Controlled access zones when used to determine access to areas where overhand plastering and related work are taking place shall be defined by a control line erected not less than 10 feet and no more than 15 feet from the working edge. Additional control lines shall be erected at each end to enclose the controlled access zone. Only employees engaged in overhand bricklaying or related work are permitted in these zones.

On floors and roofs where guardrail systems are not in place prior to the start of overhand bricklaying operations, controlled access zones shall be enlarged as necessary to enclose all points of access, material handling, areas and storage areas.

On floors and roofs where guardrail systems are in place, but need to be removed to allow leading edge work to take place, only the portion of the guardrail necessary to accomplish that day’s work shall be removed.

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Excavations

Each employee at the edge of an excavation six feet deep or more shall be protected from falling by a guardrail system, fence barricade, or cover. Where walkways are provided to permit employees to cross over excavations, guardrails are required on the walkway.

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Guardrail Systems

If a guardrail system is used to protect employees from falls, the system shall meet the following criteria:

  • Toprails and midrails of guardrail systems shall be at least one quarter inch in diameter;
  • If wire rope is used for toprails, it shall be marked every six feet with highly visible material;
  • Steel or plastic banding material shall not be used as toprails or midrails;
  • Manila, plastic or synthetic rope used for toprails or midrails shall be inspected frequently to ensure strength and stability;
  • The top edge height of toprails or guardrails shall be 42 inches plus or minus three inches above the walking level;
  • When workers are using stilts, the top edge height of the top rail or equivalent shall be increased equal to the height of the stilts;
  • Screens, midrails, mesh, intermediate vertical members or equivalent intermediate structural members shall be installed between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working surface when there are no walls or parapet walls at least 21 inches high;
  • When midrails are used, they shall be installed at a height midway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working level;
  • When screens and mesh are used they shall extend from the toprail to the walking/working level and along the entire opening between toprail supports;
  • Intermediate members, such as balusters, when used between posts, shall not be more than 19 inches apart;
  • Other structural members, such as additional midrails and panels, shall be installed so that there are no openings larger than 19 inches;
  • The guardrail system shall be capable of withstanding a force of at least 200 pounds;
  • Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, solid panels and equivalent structural members shall be capable of withstanding a force of at least 150 pounds;
  • Guardrail systems shall have smooth surfaces to protect employees from punctures or lacerations and prevent clothing from snagging;
  • The ends of toprails and midrails shall not overhang terminal posts, except where such overhang does not constitute a projection hazard;
  • A chain gate or removable guardrail section shall be placed across the access opening between guardrail sections when hoisting operations are not taking place;
  • At holes, six feet or more in depth, guardrail systems shall be set up on all unprotected sides or edges and all holes shall be covered when not in use;
  • Guardrail systems with a gate shall be used around holes that are access points to prevent employees from falling into these holes; and
  • If guardrail systems are used at the sides or edges of ramps and runways, they shall be erected on each side or edge.

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Personal Fall Arrest Systems

The use of a body belt for fall protection is prohibited.

All personal fall arrest systems shall be inspected by the user prior to each use. The inspection shall include examination for wear, damage, and other deterioration. If during the inspection the user discovers defects or damage, the user shall immediately remove the component from service.

Dee-rings and snap-hooks shall have a minimum tensile strength of 5,000 pounds without cracking, breaking, or suffering permanent deformation. Snaphooks shall be sized to be compatible with the member to which they will be connected, or shall be of a locking configuration.

Snaphooks that are not of the locking type and designed for the following connections shall not be engaged directly to:

  • Webbing, rope, or wire rope;
  • To each other;
  • To a dee-ring to which another snaphook or other connector is attached;
  • To a horizontal lifeline; or
  • To any object incompatible in shape or dimension relative to the snaphook, thereby causing the connected object to depress the snaphook keeper and release unintentionally.

A hook is considered to be compatible when the diameter of the dee-ring to which the snaphook is greater than the inside length of the snaphook when measured from the bottom (hinged-end) of the snaphook keeper to the inside curve of the top of the snaphook. Thus, no matter how the dee-ring is positioned or moved with the snaphook attached, the dee-ring cannot touch the outside of the keeper, thus depressing it open. The use of non-locking dee-rings is prohibited.

On suspended scaffolds or similar work platforms with horizontal lifelines that may become vertical lifelines, the devices used to connect to a horizontal lifeline shall be capable of locking in both directions on the lifeline.

Horizontal lifelines shall be designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a qualified person, as part of a complete fall arrest system that maintains a safety factor of at least two. Lifelines shall be protected against being cut or abraded.

Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards that automatically limit free fall distance to two feet or less shall be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 3,000 pounds applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position.

Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards that do not limit free fall distance to two feet or less, ripstitch lanyards, and tearing and deforming lanyards shall be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 5,000 pounds applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position.

Ropes and straps used in lanyards, lifelines, and strength components of body belts and body harnesses shall be made of synthetic fibers.

Anchorage shall be designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a qualified person. Anchorage used to attach personal fall arrest systems shall be independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms and shall be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds per person attached.

Lanyard and vertical lifelines shall have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds.

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Personal Positioning Device

Body harness systems shall be set up so that a worker can free fall no more than two feet. All belts or harnesses shall be secured to an anchorage capable of supporting at least twice the potential impact load of an employee’s fall or 3,000 pounds, whichever is greater.

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Warning Line Systems

Warning line systems used on roofs shall consist of ropes, wires or chains, and supporting stanchions. The warning lines shall be constructed as follows:

  • Flagged at not more than six foot intervals with high visibility material;
  • Rigged and supported so that the lowest point including sag is no less than 34 inches from the walking/working surface and its highest point is no more than 39 inches from the walking/working surface;
  • Stanchions, after being rigged with warning lines, shall be capable of resisting, without tipping over, a force of at least 16 pounds applied horizontally against the stanchion, 30 inches above the walking/working surface, perpendicular to the warning line and in the direction of the floor, roof or platform edge;
  • The rope, wire, or chain shall have a minimum tensile strength of 500 pounds and after being attached to the stanchions, shall support without breaking the load applied to the stanchions as prescribed above; and
  • Shall be attached to each stanchion in such a way that pulling on one section of the line between stanchions will not result in slack being taken up in the adjacent section before the stanchion tips over.

When mechanical equipment is being used, the warning line shall be erected not less than six feet from the roof edge parallel to the direction of mechanical equipment operation, and not less than 10 feet from the roof edge perpendicular to the direction of mechanical equipment operation.

When mechanical equipment is not being used, the warning line shall be erected not less than six feet from the roof edge.

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Hoist Areas

All employees in a hoist area shall be protected from falling six feet or more by guardrail systems or personal fall arrest systems. If guardrail systems or portions thereof must be removed to facilitate hoisting operations, as during the landing of materials, and a worker must lean through the access opening to receive or guide equipment and materials, that employee shall be protected by a personal fall arrest system.

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Holes, Openings, Ramps, Runways, and Other Walkways

All holes, openings, ramps, runways, and other walkways crossing or covering openings six feet or more, shall be protected with a guardrail system.

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Wall Openings

All employees working on, at, or near wall openings where the bottom edge of the wall opening is six feet or more and the inside bottom edge of the wall opening is less than 39 inches above the walking/working surface, shall be protected by use of either a guardrail system or a personal fall arrest system.

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Covers

Covers used over openings in the roadways and vehicular aisles shall meet the following criteria:

  • Support twice the maximum axle weight of the largest vehicle the cover might be subjected;
  • Support twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at anytime;
  • Be secured at all times; and
  • Be identified with markings indicating “HOLE” or “COVER”.

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Roofs

Low-Sloped Roofs

All employees working on low-sloped roofs with unprotected sides and edges six feet or more above the lower levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems or a combination warning line system and personal fall arrest system, or a combination warning line system and a safety monitoring system.

Roofs that are 50 feet or less in width can use a safety monitoring system without a warning line system.

Steep Roofs

All employees on a steep roof with unprotected sides and edges six feet or more above the lower levels shall be protected by either guardrail systems with toeboards or a personal fall arrest system.

Building Specific Roofs

The following buildings have roof specific fall protection systems and requirements:

  • 6054 South Drexel;
  • Campus North Residential Commons;
  • Cathey Dining Commons;
  • Chicago Theological Seminary;
  • Earl Shapiro Hall;
  • Edward H. Levi Hall;
  • Facilities Services;
  • Gerald Ratner Athletic Center for the curved roof areas;
  • Gordan Parks Art Center;
  • Hinds Geophysics;
  • Pick Hall;
  • Press Building;
  • Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons;
  • Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts;
  • Saieh Hall for Economics;
  • Searle Chemistry Laboratory;
  • UChicago Child Development Center - Drexel;
  • UChicago Child Development Center - Stony Island;
  • West Campus Combined Utility Plant; and
  • William Eckhardt Research Center.

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Protection from Falling Objects

When guardrail systems are used to prevent materials from falling from one level to another, any opening shall be small enough to prevent passage of potential falling objects. No materials or equipment, except masonry or mortar shall be stored within four feet of working edges. Excess mortar, broken or scattered masonry, and all other materials and debris shall be kept clear of the working area by removal at regular intervals.

During roofing work, materials and equipment shall not be stored within six feet of a roof edge unless guardrails are erected at the edge, and materials piled, grouped, or stacked near a roof edge shall be stable and self-supporting.

Canopies

When canopies are used as protection from falling objects, they shall be constructed strong enough to prevent collapse and to prevent penetration by any objects that fall onto them.

Toeboards

When toeboards are used as protection from falling objects, they shall be erected along the edges of the overhead walking or working surface for a distance sufficient to protect persons working below. Toeboards shall be capable of withstanding a force of at least 50 pounds applied in any downward or outward direction at any point along the toeboard. Toeboards shall be a minimum of three and one half inches tall from their top edge to the level of the walking/working surface, have no more than 0.25 inches clearance above the walking/working surface, and be solid or have openings no larger than one inch in size.

Where tools, equipment, or materials are piled higher than the top edge of a toeboard, paneling or screening shall be erected from the walking/working surface or toeboard to the top of a guardrail system’s top rail or midrail, for a distance sufficient to protect persons below.

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Safety Monitoring Systems

If no fall protection, including personal fall arrest systems, warning line systems, controlled access zones or guardrail system can be implemented, then a safety monitoring system shall be established. The responsible department shall designate a safety monitor to monitor the safety of the workers. The safety monitor shall:

  • Be competent in the recognition of fall hazards;
  • Be capable of warning workers of fall hazard dangers;
  • Detect unsafe work practices as in accordance with this policy;
  • Work on the same surface as the workers and maintain visual contact of all employees;
  • Be close enough to the work operations to communicate orally with the workers; and
  • Have no other duties that will interfere or distract from the monitoring function.

Mechanical equipment shall not be used or stored in areas where safety monitoring systems are being used to monitor employees engaged in roofing operations on low-sloped roofs.
No worker, other then one engaged in work on low-sloped roofs, or covered by a personal fall arrest system, shall be allowed in an area where the employee is being protected by a safety monitoring system.

All workers in a controlled access zone shall be instructed to promptly comply with all fall warnings issued by the safety monitors.

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Training

All employees that are exposed to fall hazards shall be trained in the recognition and minimization of such hazards. Training shall be arranged through Environmental Health and Safety. The employee shall be trained in the following areas:

  • Nature of fall hazards in the work area;
  • The correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling, and inspecting fall protection systems;
  • The use and operation of controlled access zones and guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, and warning lines;
  • The limitations on the use of mechanical equipment during the performance of roofing work on low-slope roofs;
  • The correct procedures for equipment and materials handling and storage and the erection of overhead protection; and
  • The employee’s role in fall protection plans.

 

Reviewed: September 2014

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