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Use designated areas only when allowed
  • Designated areas are permitted only on flat or low-slope roofs, and only under certain conditions.
  • Temporary and infrequent work describes work that is brief, such as equipment repair or inspections, that a worker can perform in less time that what is needed to set up temporary fall protection.

Designated areas are permitted only in limited situations. First, a designated area may be used if:

  • Employees will be working at least 6 feet but less than 15 feet from the roof edge, and
  • The work is both temporary and infrequent.

Second, if employees will be working 15 feet or more from the edge, a designated area may be used. At this distance, there is no requirement for the work to be temporary and infrequent.

Finally, if the work is both 15 feet or more from the edge AND the work is both temporary and infrequent, no fall protection is required (not even a designated area). In that case, the employer must implement and enforce rule prohibiting employees from going within 15 feet from the roof edge unless fall protection is provided and used.

Designated areas may NOT be used:

  • On platforms;
  • Around pits;
  • Around unprotected roof holes or openings;
  • Without the use of warning lines;
  • Within six feet from the roof edge; or
  • On roofs that do not meet the definition of low-sloping.

Temporary and infrequent

Generally, temporary and infrequent means short-term work (requiring no more than an hour or two) that is done only on occasion (such as once per month, or as needed). An example would be changing an air conditioner filter once per month.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines temporary work as brief tasks, such as equipment repair or annual inspections that a worker is able to perform in less time than it takes to install or set up conventional fall protection. Additionally, OSHA considers a temporary task to be something that can be completed at one time rather than a task that requires repeatedly climbing up or returning to the roof, or requires more than one work shift to complete.

OSHA defines infrequent work as a task or job done only when needed (e.g., an equipment breakdown), on an occasional basis, or at sporadic or irregular intervals. OSHA provides the following examples:

  • Annual maintenance or servicing of equipment;
  • Monthly or quarterly replacement of batteries or HVAC filters; and
  • Responding to equipment outage or breakdown.

If a task is performed on a daily basis, is a routine part of the job, or is repeated at various locations during the work shift, it does not meet the definition of infrequent. OSHA provides further clarification by stating, “A task may be considered infrequent when it is performed once a month, once a year, or when needed.”