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Construction coverage
  • The fall protection standard sets requirements and criteria for fall protection in construction workplaces.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of fall protection for construction workers in Part 1926, Subpart M. Virtually all construction companies are required to follow some provisions of the fall protection rule.

The rule sets a threshold height of six feet, meaning that employers must protect employees from fall hazards and falling objects whenever an affected employee is six feet or more above a lower level. Although not all employees may be working six feet or more above a lower level, they might need protection from falling objects.

Protection must also be provided for construction workers who are exposed to the hazard of falling onto dangerous equipment; for example, working over machinery with open drive belts, pulleys or gears, or open vats of degreasing agents or acid.

Initially, employers must assess the workplace to determine if walking-working surfaces have the necessary strength and structural integrity to safely support workers.

Once it is determined that the work surfaces will safely support the work activity, the employer must determine whether fall protection is required per 1926.501.

If fall protection is required, select and provide workers with fall protection systems that comply with the criteria at 1926.502.

If an employee is working on a scaffold, the height requirement for fall protection is 10 feet and this protection is usually provided by a guardrail (1926.451(g)). When working from a ladder, the fall protection is setting up and using the ladder correctly per the OSHA regulations at 1926, Subpart X—Stairways and ladders. Safe ladders use is found in 1926.1053(b). There is no other fall protection required for ladders.