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Fall Protection Plan

To Write or Not to Write, That is the Question

Last week we discussed training requirements all contractors need to be aware of. Today we are going to talk about an equally important part of the fall protection standard – the need for a written plan stating exactly what type of fall protection you intend on using on your project.

Under 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13), “workers engaged in residential construction six (6) feet or more above lower levels must be protected by conventional fall protection (guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest system) or other fall protection measures allowed elsewhere in 1926.501(b). If an employer can demonstrate that the fall protection required under 1926.501(b)(13) is infeasible or presents a greater hazard, it must instead implement a written fall protection plan meeting the requirements of 1926.502(k)”.

The written plan must be site specific and be completed by a Qualified Person. Who would be a Qualified Person? OSHA defines this role as “one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject manner, the work, or the project.” Would you be willing to bet an OSHA fine as to whether or not you’re “qualified” enough to write a plan citing fall protection is infeasible?

“Infeasible” is a key word to this regulation. The definition of infeasible is not possible to do easily; impracticable. There are so many products on the market today geared towards residential construction making it difficult to prove infeasibility. Oh, and citing “financial infeasibility” is not an excuse that OSHA will buy!

I do not endorse any one company but here are a few I’ve used in the past that have worked very well for a number of different trades:

OSHA regulations are minimum requirements so it’s always a good idea to implement some best practices which is above and beyond OSHA requirements. You will find it’s easier to reduce your OSHA fines by showing you are doing all you can to protect your workers. One of these best practices would be to have a written fall protection plan in place before construction begins.

This plan doesn’t have to be as long as “War and Peace” – keep it simple. Name the project, address and type of construction. Then, list out the types of approved fall protection measures you plan on using for each phase of construction (i.e. sheathing, trusses, roofing, etc.). But remember, fall protection is not a “one size fits all”. You might realize the protection you planned on doesn’t work as it should. Try out another product and update your plan.

Last week we discussed training your employees in fall protection. To review, the specific standard is, “The employer shall assure that each employee has been trained as necessary, by a competent person qualified in the following areas: nature of fall hazards in the work area; the correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling, and inspecting the fall protection systems to be used; the use and operation of guardrails systems, waring line systems, safety net systems, safety monitoring systems, controlled access zones, or other protection to be used; the role of each employee in the safety monitoring system when this system is used; the limitations on the use of mechanical equipment during the performance of roofing work on low-sloped roofs; the correct procedures for handling and storage of equipment and materials and the erection of overhead protection; the role of employees in the fall protection plan; and the standards contained in this subpart.”

Having a plan in place which is site specific and touches on all these topics as they pertain to your project will make your visit with an OSHA Compliance Officer a lot shorter! It’s all about documentation and implementing that documented plan.

The last part of your plan is your documentation of training. At the end of your fall protection plan, create a sign in sheet with a space for your employees name, date of training and signature of trainer. This sign in sheet, like the fall protection plan, must be updated as needed (i.e. when new workers come onto the jobsite).

The fall protection standard didn’t go into effect to punish contractors – it’s for saving lives. I can promise you your workers will have a better morale knowing they are working for someone who cares about them going home to see their families at the end of each day and they will pay you back by doing the very best possible work they can. I’m sure your client will also be very happy to know there won’t be a major accident or fatality at their future home!

Next week we’ll discuss fall protection options, both temporary and permanent, available to contractors.

Need help with training or writing your fall protection plan? Call us today to talk about your unique situation. We are available to you to ensure you protect your most valuable resource.                                                                                                  770.880.1487




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