11.10 - Fall Protection

Last updated on April 25, 2023

POLICY: It is the policy of Spoon River College to ensure employee safety by minimizing slips, trips, and falls.


This policy applies to all Spoon River College employees who are exposed to unprotected sides or edges of surfaces that present a falling hazard of four (4) feet or more to a lower level.

Contractors are required to comply with all applicable OSHA regulations (where applicable) and shall have their own fall protection program.


Aerial lift device: Equipment, such as powered platforms, vehicle-mounted, elevated, and rotating work platforms, extensible boom platforms, aerial ladders, articulating boom platforms, vertical towers and powered industrial truck platforms.

Authorized employee: An employee of Spoon River College authorized to operate aerial lifts or perform work related duties in elevated heights such as on roofs or while climbing ladders (generally maintenance staff).

Body harness (also referred as full-body harness): An interconnected set of straps that may be secured about a person in a manner that distributes the fall arrest forces over at least the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest, and shoulders with a means for attaching the harness to other components of a personal fall arrest system.

Connector: A device that is used to connect parts of a personal fall arrest system together
(i.e. D-rings and snaphooks).

Designated area: A space which has a perimeter barrier erected to warn employees when they approach an unprotected side or edge, and serves also to designate an area where work may be performed without additional fall protection.

Guardrail: A barrier erected to prevent personnel from falling to lower levels.

Ladder: A device typically used to gain access to a different elevation consisting of two or more structural members crossed by rungs, steps, or cleats.

Lanyard: A deceleration device containing a drum-wound line which can be slowly extracted from, or retracted onto, the drum under minimal tension during normal movement and which, after onset of a fall, automatically locks the drum and arrests the fall (usually within two feet or less).

Lower levels: Areas or surfaces to which and employee can fall. Such areas include, but are not limited to, ground levels, floors, platforms, ramps, runways, excavations, pits tanks, material, water, equipment, structures, or portions thereof.

Low-slope roof: A roof having a slope less than or equal to 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal).

Opening: A gap or void 30 inches or more high and 18 inches or more wide in a wall or partition, through which personnel can fall to a lower level.

Positioning device system: A body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning.

Personal fall arrest system: A system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a working level. It consists of an anchorage, connectors, and body harness and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or suitable combinations of these.

Roof: The exterior surface on the top of a building.

Roofing work: The hoisting, storage, application, and removal of roofing materials and equipment, including related insulation, sheet metal, and vapor barrier work, but not including the construction of the roof deck.

Steep roof: A roof having a slope greater than 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal).

Toe board: A low protective barrier that prevents material and equipment from falling to lower levels and which protects personnel from falling.

Unprotected sides and edges: Any side or edge (except at entrances to points of access) of a walking/working surface, e.g., floor, roof, ramp, or runway where there is no wall or guardrail system at least 39 inches (1.0 m) high.

Walking/working surface: Any surface, whether horizontal or vertical on which an employee walks or works, including, but not limited to, floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, form work, and concrete reinforcing steel but not including ladders, vehicles, or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their job duties.

Work area: That portion of a walking/working surface where job duties are being performed.


  1. Unauthorized employees will not be required, nor allowed to perform any duties which require the employee to get closer than six feet to an unprotected edge, platform, or walkway of any building or utilize elevated equipment unless the employee is properly secured from falling.
  2. All employees shall control fall hazards in their work area by maintaining good housekeeping and must report conditions that may lead to slips, trips and falls to the maintenance office.
  3. Duties and Responsibilities:
    1. Supervisors must:
      1. implement all aspects of the program for work areas under their control.
      2. evaluate fall hazards in work areas under their control.
      3. ensure that employees are informed, trained, and provided with the appropriate fall protection systems and equipment to be protected from potential fall hazards associated with job tasks.
      4. coordinate the correction of fall hazards brought to their attention by employees.
      5. complete a "First Report of Injury" report and produce any additional documentation needed to investigate and work related injuries and illnesses.
    2. Authorized employees must:
      1. comply with the Fall Protection policy and any further safety recommendation provided by the College regarding fall protection.
      2. complete fall protection training requirements and request further instruction if unclear.
      3. conduct assigned tasks in a safe manner and wear all assigned personal protection equipment; and report any unsafe or unhealthy work conditions and job related injuries or illnesses to the supervisor immediately.
  4. Training:
    1. Ladders: Refer to Ladder Safety Policy.
    2. Aerial Lifts: Authorized employees using aerial lifts should be knowledgeable of each of the following:
      1. The manufacturer's operating instructions;
      2. Pre-start inspection of the lift;
      3. Inspection of the work area for dangerous conditions such as uneven surfaces, overhead obstructions such as power lines, and severe weather;
      4. Load capacities of the equipment;
      5. How to safely move the equipment;
      6. How to prevent falls and use appropriate fall protection personal protective equipment; and
      7. Minimum safe approach distances to energized power lines.
    3. Retraining: Employees will require retraining under any of the following conditions:
      1. Changes in the workplace render previous training obsolete;
      2. Changes in the types of fall protection systems or equipment to be used render previous training obsolete; or
      3. Inadequacies in an employee's knowledge of use of fall protection systems or equipment or observed behavior indicate that the employee has not retained the required training.
    4. Training Records: The maintenance office shall maintain training documentation containing the name of the employee trained, the name of the person who conducted the training, and the date of the training.
  5. Identifying Fall Hazards: Employees are responsible for reporting potential fall hazards.  Falls may be classified into three general categories:

    Personnel should alert their supervisors to potential fall hazards not already identified and controlled.  The following are fall hazards, which require protection:

  6. Personal Protective Equipment: Personal protective equipment shall be used to minimize fall hazards where engineering controls do not eliminate the hazard or in conjunction with engineering controls. Fall protection equipment is divided into the following functional categories:
    1. Fall Arrest: The use of a personal fall arrest system is the required personal protective equipment for fall hazards. A personal fall arrest system consists of a full-body harness, lanyard, and anchor point OR a full-body harness, lanyard, lifeline, anchor point, and deceleration/grabbing device.  All fall protection equipment shall meet or exceed appropriate American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.  Employees shall use only commercially manufactured equipment specifically designed for fall protection.  Requirements for a personal fall arrest system include, but are not limited to, the following:
      1. Body Harness: Only full-body harnesses shall be used;
      2. Connecting Device: Shock-absorbing lanyards and lifelines;
      3. Anchorage: Anchorage point and anchorage connector for personal fall arrest systems independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms.
    2. Positioning: A positioning device is not a substitute for a personal arrest system and is limited to use as system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning. Where positioning device is used, it shall comply with the following:
      1. Only a full-body harness shall be worn as part of a positioning device system;
      2. Positioning devices shall be rigged such that a free fall cannot be more than 2 feet; and
      3. Positioning devices shall be secured to an anchorage point capable of supporting at least twice the potential impact load of an employee’s fall.
    3. Suspension: Personal suspension systems are used for window washing and painting and are designed to lower and support a worker to perform tasks. The components of a suspension system are:
      1. Full-Body Harness;
      2. Workline; and
      3. Anchorage
    4. Retrieval: Personal retrieval systems are used for confined space entry and on-entry rescue. Refer to the College’s policy on confined space entry.
    5. Restraint: A restraint line is a device that is attached between the employee and an anchorage point to prevent the employee from walking or falling off an elevated surface. It does not support an employee at an elevated surface, but rather, prevents the employee from leaving the elevated surface or work position.

    Any other personal protective equipment deemed necessary for the task under the Personal Protective Equipment Standard must be worn. This includes, but is not limited to, hard hats, gloves, safety glasses, and steel toed boots.

  7. Equipment Inspections and Maintenance:
    1. Impact Loading: Any fall arrest system or component that has been used to arrest a fall (impact loading) shall be immediately removed from service until is inspected and determined by a competent person to be undamaged.
    2. Inspection: Personnel prior to each use shall conduct visual equipment inspections. If, upon inspection, a piece of equipment shows any signs of wear it must immediately be removed from service and the supervisor notified.
    3. Maintenance: When needed, fall protection devices should be washed in warm water using a mild detergent, rinsed thoroughly in clean warm water and allowed to dry at room temperature.
      1. Stow equipment in clean area away from strong sunlight and extreme temperatures that could degrade materials.
      2. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning, maintenance and storage information.
  8. Roofing: The hazards associated with work on roofs include falling through openings and falling off edges. Effective roof work fall protection techniques are intended to protect workers while providing the mobility and comfort necessary to perform work tasks. Authorized employees must follow the procedures listed below:
    1. Low-slope or flat roofs: Each employee engaged in roofing activities on low-slope roofs, with unprotected sides and edges 6 feet or more above lower levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, or a combination of warning line system and guardrail system, warning line system and safety net system, or warning line system and personal fall arrest system, or warning line system and safety monitoring system.
    2. Steep roofs: Each employee on a steep roof with unprotected sides and edges 6 feet or more above lower levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems with toe boards, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
    3. Personal Fall Arrest System: The system of choice for fall protection on roofs is the personal fall arrest system.
      1. Requirements for personal fall arrest systems are found in the Personal Protection Equipment section of this policy; and
      2. A qualified person must design personal fall arrest systems for roof work.
  9. Designated areas: As an alternative to installing guardrails, a designated area may be established.  The following condition and requirements must be met in order to use designated areas in lieu of other fall protection measures:
    1. The work must be of a temporary nature, such as maintenance on roof top equipment;
    2. Designated areas shall be established only on surfaces that have a slope from horizontal of 10 degrees or less; and
    3. The designated area shall consist of an area surrounded by a rope, wire, or chain and supporting stanchions.
    4. After being erected with the line attached, stanchions shall be capable or resisting, without tipping over, a force of at least 16 pounds applied horizontally against the stanchion;
    5. The line shall have a minimum breaking or tensile strength or 500 pounds;
    6. The line shall be attached at 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 adjacent sections before the stanchion tips over;
    7. The line shall be installed in such a manner that its lowest point is no less that 34 inches nor more than 39 inches from the work surface;
    8. The line forming the designated area shall be clearly visible from any unobstructed location within the designated area up to 25 feet away;
    9. The stanchions shall be erected as close to the work area as is permitted by the task;
    10. The perimeter of the designated area shall be erected no less than 6 feet from the unprotected side or edge; and
    11. Access to the designated area shall be by a clear path formed by two lines attached to stanchions.
  10. Aerial Lifts: Please refer to policy on aerial lifts.
  11. Ladders: Refer to Ladder Safety Policy.
  12. Fixed industrial stairs: The following applies to all stairs around equipment, machinery, tanks, etc. They do not apply to stairs used for fire exits.
    1. Riser height and tread width of fixed industrial stairs should be uniform throughout any flight of stairs. All treads must be reasonably slip resistant.
    2. The minimum permissible width of a stairway is 22 inches.
    3. The angle to the horizontal made by the stairs must be between 30 and 50 degrees.
    4. All stairs should be adequately lighted.
    5. If the tread is less than 9 inches wide the risers should be open.
  13. Embedded Stairs:
    1. Individual steps used for access or egress, embedded in the walls of risers or the conical top sections of manholes must be safe, well-constructed, and installed in accordance with good engineering practices.
    2. Individual rungs or steps must be uniformly spaced from 12 to 16.5 inches.
    3. The use of steps in personal access holes should be designed to prevent the foot from sliding off the end.
  14. Walking and Working Surfaces: In general, all areas of the workplace should be kept clean, orderly sanitary, and as dry as possible. These guidelines apply to work areas, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms:
    1. All spills should be cleaned promptly. Floors in work areas must be kept free of scraps, chips, oil spills, and other debris.
    2. Boxes, chairs, buckets, desks or any other device not specifically intended for use in extending reach shall not be used.
    3. Areas, which are constantly wet, should have non-slip surfaces or mats where workers may walk or work. Where wet processes are used good drainage must be maintained.
    4. Every floor, working place, and passageway must be maintained free from protruding nails, splinters, holes, and loose boards.
    5. Where mechanical handling equipment is used, such as lift trucks, sufficient safe clearance must be provided for foot and vehicular traffic.
    6. No obstructions that could create a hazard are permitted in aisles. All permanent aisles must be easily recognizable.
    7. As a general condition, a standard toe board and guard rail are required where ever people walk near or beneath the open sides of a platform or similar structures; where things could fall from a structure; or where things could fall from a structure into machinery below.