ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY STANDARD


SUBJECT: Fall Prevention
ORIGINAL: May 4, 1994
LAST UPDATED: October 13, 2009


Table of Contents


Purpose and scope:

To establish a uniform standard for the use of fall protection equipment when work assignments expose University of Wisconsin - La Crosse (UW-L) employees to conditions which could cause falls resulting in occupational injury or death.


Policy:

A safe and healthful working environment must be provided for all UW-L employees. When engineering or administrative controls will not provide an acceptable level of protection, protective equipment will be provided to achieve safe working conditions. When fall protection equipment is necessary, the requirements of this standard shall be followed.


Engineering Controls:

As feasible, all operations from which there is a drop of more than 4 feet shall be guarded by rail, picket fence, half door or equivalent barrier. Barrier design criteria are established in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.23. Ladders under 20 feet are exempted from this requirement. Where barriers are not feasible for work at elevated heights (greater than 4 feet) fall protection equipment shall be used.


Personal Protective Equipment:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements for fall protection vary depending upon tasks being conducted. Since limited elevated work activities exist at the UW-L, PPE requirements are established based upon specific tasks. If tasks are not identified below, the individual required to work at an elevated height shall receive approval from their supervisor and the Environmental Health and Safety Department prior to proceeding.

Scaffolding:

Each worker must be protected by a type 1 full-body harness attached to a shock absorbing lanyard. The lanyard must not exceed 6 foot in length and shall be securely attached to substantial members of the structure (not the scaffold), or to securely rigged lines, which will safely suspend the worker in case of a fall.

Elevated work platforms:

Each worker must be protected by a type 1 full-body harness attached to a shock absorbing lanyard. The lanyard must not exceed 6 feet in length and shall be securely attached to substantial members of the platform which will safely suspend the worker in case of a fall. Fall protection equipment must meet design requirements specified in Appendix C, Section I of OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.66.

Flat Roofs:

Each worker must be protected by a type 1 full-body harness attached to a shock absorbing lanyard whenever performing materials handling or maintenance operations closer than 6 feet from the edge of a unguarded roof. Similar fall protection is required for inspections or investigations when the individual in closer than 2 feet from the edge of an unguarded roof. The lanyard shall not exceed 6 feet in length and shall prevent travel beyond the edge of the roof. The lanyard shall be securely attached to substantial members of the structure, or to securely rigged lines, which will safely suspend the worker in case of a fall.

Inclement weather, including but not limited to snow, ice, high winds, or rain creates a hazard for all operations conducted on roofs. The employee shall take additional precautions dependant upon the severity of the inclement weather and the task being performed. As necessary the employee should contact their supervisor to review additional precautions. Work shall not be conducted on roofs during lightning storms.

Confined Space:

Each worker entering a permit required confined space shall be protected by a type 1 full-body harness, life line and winch capable of retrieving personnel from vertical entries. Additional information on fall protection in permit required confined spaces is included in the written UW-L Confined Space Entry Program.

Additional fall protective equipment use and selection criteria are included in the following list.

  1. All lifelines and ropes must have a minimum breaking strength of 5,400 pounds.
  2. All harness and lanyard hardware shall be capable of withstanding a tensile loading of 4000 pounds without cracking, breaking or deforming.
  3. All equipment subjected to breaking a fall shall be permanently removed from service.
  4. Lifelines subjected to cutting or abrasion shall be a minimum of 7/8 inch wire core manila rope. All other lifeline applications shall use a minimum of 3/4 inch manila rope or its equivalent.
  5. Equipment shall only be used for employee safeguarding.
  6. All lanyards and harnesses shall be purchased.

Working Alone:

Two personnel must be present during any high hazard operation requiring use of fall protective equipment.
The safety back-up shall contact Protective Services in case of any incident requiring emergency services.
The employee requiring use of fall protective equipment shall contact their supervisor to discuss and determine if the operation is designated as high hazard.


Inspections:

Components of fall protection equipment must be inspected by a trained, designated individual prior to each use. If, upon inspection, a piece of equipment displays any of the following conditions, that item should be withdrawn from service immediately. Although it is always necessary to consult the manufacturer for specific care instructions, general signs of wear are as follows.

  • Cuts or frayed edges
  • Abrasions
  • Mildew or mold
  • Undue stretching
  • Chemical burns, acids or corrosives
  • Dryness
  • Corrosion or charring
  • Broken stitches
  • Inner fiber fuzziness
  • Rivets that are loose or distorted
  • Tar or similar products that penetrate and harden in the fibers
  • Deformed thimbles or enlarged buckle tongue holes or grommets
  • Damaged or distorted snap hooks or faulty springs
  • Cracks or distortions in fall protection hardware

Ladders:

When ladders are improperly selected, used and maintained they can pose a fall hazard. Requirements to minimize and eliminate such hazards are as follows.

Selection:

  1. Only use Type I industrial stepladders of an appropriate length. Do not use makeshift ladders, such as boxes, barrels or chairs or place ladders on such articles for additional height.
  2. Straight and extension ladders shall have grippers or cleats (safety feet).
  3. DO NOT select metal ladders when working on or near electrical equipment.

Use:

  1. The distance from the bottom of a straight ladder to its support wall shall be one-quarter the working length of the ladder.
  2. Set up ladders on a firm level surface.
  3. Where possible, straight ladders should be secured with a rope or wire at the top and blocked at the bottom.
  4. The two highest steps and top platform shall not be used for climbing.
  5. If a straight ladder is used to climb onto an elevated work station, it shall extend at least 3 1/2 feet above the working level.
  6. Do not over-reach, jump or slide a ladder while on it. Move the ladder as work progresses.
  7. Always face the ladder and use both hands while ascending or descending.
  8. Tools or materials should be raised by means of a rope after the climber has reached the working position.
  9. Barricades and warning signs should be posted when ladders are placed near doors or other locations where they could be struck.
  10. Two personnel shall handle and set up all extension ladders.
  11. Ladders should not be used by more than one person at a time.

Maintenance:

  1. Prior to use of a ladder all employees shall inspect the equipment for defects such as missing cleats, cracked rungs, broken spreaders or splinters. Defective ladders must be removed from service and tagged or marked: "Dangerous, Do Not Use".
  2. Ladders should be stored where they will not be exposed to the weather. Ladders should not be stored near radiators, steam pipes or in places subjected to excessive heat or dampness.
  3. Do not paint wooden ladders. Clear wood preservative can be used to protect bare wood

Training:

The University of Wisconsin - La Crosse shall provide a training program for all employees engaged in work at elevated heights requiring the use of personal protective equipment. The employees shall be trained in the safety procedures to be followed in order to recognize and prevent falls. This training shall include:

  1. Methods to identify potential fall hazards.
  2. The function, use, operation, inspection and maintenance of personal protective equipment.
  3. Procedures to identify and inspect substantial members of the structure, or securely rigged lines, which will safely suspend the worker in case of a fall.
  4. Alternative administrative or engineering controls that can be used to minimize or eliminate the use of personal fall protection equipment.

As applicable, this training shall include information on the following topics.

  1. Individuals identified as qualified operators of powered platforms shall be instructed on the operation and inspection of the equipment.
  2. Individuals required to work on scaffolds shall be instructed on the construction, use and inspection of the equipment.

Individuals required to use fall protection equipment in permit required confined spaces will receive training as outlined in the written UW-L Confined Space Entry Program.

All UW-L personnel required to use ladders shall receive instructions from their supervisor or other designated individual in the proper methods to use, inspect, maintain and store stepladders.


Approval:

The fall prevention standard is effective immediately. All University of Wisconsin - La Crosse employees shall fulfill their responsibilities as designated within this written standard.