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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

Whether you work on a construction site, shipyard, longshore operation, or in any other profession that requires working at heights, it is essential that you know when and where fall protection is required.

The short answer: Requirements for fall protection can apply when working on surfaces as low as 4’ above the next lower level.

But, the long answer is that the type of work being performed and various state and/or federal regulations can result in different minimum requirements.

Type Of Work

Requirements for fall protection vary based on industry.

For work that is performed in the general industry (anything but construction), Federal OSHA requires that every open-sided floor or platform 4’ or more above the next lower level be guarded by a standard railing on all open sides, except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder. OSHA 1910.23(c)(1).

For work performed in the Construction Industry, Federal OSHA requires that each employee on a walking or working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 6’ or more above the next lower level be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. OSHA 1926.501(b)(1).

And for work areas such as shipyards, longshoring operations, or areas where you are working directly above dangerous equipment, this minimum requirement can still vary.

Back to Basics: When and Where Is Fall Protection Required?

State And/Or Federal Regulations

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) was signed into law in 1970 under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. Throughout the years, OSHA regulations have saved countless lives, letting parents, children, brothers, and sisters all return home safely.

In states that have adopted their own OSHA plan, then the applicable state OSHA standard supersedes federal OSHA standards.

For more information regarding state-specific OSHA plans, click here.

However, if your state has not adopted its own OSHA plan, then the applicable federal OSHA standards will still apply. To learn more about federal OSHA standards, click here.

In specific areas where OSHA standards do not presently exist, voluntary consensus standards, such as ANSI, are adopted by a wide variety of fall protection equipment manufacturers and private safety divisions. It is highly recommended to adhere to ANSI and other voluntary standards to ensure the highest degree of safety, and to avoid any citations.

In Short...

The type of work being performed and applicable safety standards can dramatically affect the minimum requirement for fall protection, but requirements for fall protection can generally apply when working on surfaces as low as 4’ above the next lower level.

Should you need assistance in determining the requirement for fall protection on your jobsite, call our dedicated customer service team at 1-800-466-6385. Our team of experts can help you in determining your requirements as well as provide product recommendations based on your jobsite.