Part 2: Personnel: The Minimum Requirements for a Managed Fall Protection Program

Employers have a lot of duties and responsibilities when it comes to at-height workers. Part two of this four-part blog series covers the responsibilities and functions of different fall protection personnel—following the national standard that determines the minimum requirements for a comprehensive fall protection program—ANSI Z359.2-2007.

When reading about fall protection and the minimum requirements for a comprehensive managed fall protection program, we often stumble upon a myriad of personnel who carry different titles and are tasked with different—albeit thoroughly defined—responsibilities. You have likely heard terms like qualified person, authorized person, and competent person in reference to a fall protection program. Chances are you’re familiar with these titles but aren’t exactly sure what they mean. Additionally, there are several more types of personnel, which are often left unmentioned.

In order to meet the demands of a managed fall protection program, you must be familiar with the type of personnel involved. According to the national standard, there are a total of nine personnel who may be involved in the planning and implementation of a successful fall protection program. In smaller organizations, one person may fulfill more than one of these roles.

1. Program Administrator: a program administrator is responsible for developing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating a managed fall protection program. The program administrator does not have to be an exclusive designation, meaning that the same person may also function as a qualified person, competent person, competent person trainer, qualified person trainer, or competent rescue trainer. A program administrator must also:

  • Obtain a working knowledge of current fall protection regulations, standards, equipment, and systems
  • Advise and guide managers, employees, and other departments on all matters pertaining to the fall protection program
  • Establish and assign duties and responsibilities to individuals who are trained and qualified to perform them and provide any necessary resources
  • Establish and implement a procedure to identify, eliminate, and control new and existing fall hazards
  • Oversee the development of fall protection, rescue procedures, and rescue drills for every location where an active fall protection system is used to control a fall hazard
  • Provide specific training programs for all authorized, competent, and qualified persons
  • Oversee the investigations of all incidents related to falls from heights by reviewing incident reports, taking corrective action to eliminate causes, making necessary reports to management, and maintaining an incident report system
  • Oversee the documentation of all installations, anchorages, rescue drills, and annual inspections for fall protection
  • Measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the managed fall protection program by conducting periodic evaluations and making ongoing improvements
  • Oversee the documentation of all installation

2. Qualified Person: a qualified person is responsible for supporting the fall protection program. Areas of expertise may include engineering, system design, horizontal lifeline design, structural analysis, calculation of impact forces and clearances, testing, anchorage certification, methods of control, equipment selection, and compliance with applicable regulations and standards. A qualified person must also:

  • Have knowledge of applicable fall protection regulations, standards, equipment, and systems, along with physical sciences, engineering principles, and mandatory requirements for fall protection equipment used by their employer
  • Supervise the design, selection, installation, and inspection of certified anchorages and lifelines
  • Calculate the forces generated by an arrested fall, the total loading, and the deflection of the fall arrest anchorage, along with the impact on the structural members to which the system is attached, and the safest location for the anchorage
  • Participate in the investigation of all incidents related to falls from heights
  • Meet the qualifications of a competent person

3. Competent Person: a competent person is responsible for the immediate supervision, implementation, and monitoring of a managed fall protection program. This person is usually a supervisor, manager, or foreman who is more experienced in fall protection than an authorized person and is in a position of authority to stop work should a safety issue arise. A competent person must also:

  • Have a working knowledge of applicable fall protection regulations, standards, equipment, and systems
  • Conduct a fall hazard survey to identify all fall hazards before any authorized persons are exposed to them
  • Identify, evaluate, and impose limits on the workplace activities to control fall hazard exposures and swing falls
  • Have the authority to stop the work immediately if it is determined that it is unsafe to proceed with workplace activities
  • Prepare, update, review, and approve written fall protection procedures under the direction of the program administrator
  • Review the procedures as workplace activities change to determine if additional practices, procedures, or training need to be implemented
  • Specify (in writing) all fall protection systems and equipment that authorized persons are required to use when exposed to a fall
  • Supervise the selection, installation, use, and inspection of non-certified anchorages
  • Verify and document that fall protection systems are installed and inspected in compliance with the national standard and all applicable federal, state, and local regulations
  • Verify that authorized persons who work at heights are trained and authorized to do so and review fall protection and rescue procedures before work begins
  • Establish the clearance requirements for each fall protection system and verify that available clearance is adequate
  • Ensure that a prompt rescue of authorized persons can be accomplished by implementing and monitoring rescue procedures
  • Participate in the investigation of all incidents related to falls from heights
  • Immediately remove all personal fall arrest systems and components that are damaged or subjected to the forces of a fall arrest
  • Periodically inspect all fall protection equipment required by the manufacturer
  • Periodically oversee rescue drills

4. Authorized Person: an authorized person has a working understanding of his or her employer’s policies and procedures and follows the instructions of the competent person regarding the use of fall protection. An authorized person must also:

  • Alert the competent person of any unsafe or hazardous conditions or actions that may cause injury to either themselves or any other authorized person before proceeding with his or her workplace activities
  • Properly use, inspect, maintain, store, and care for fall protection equipment
  • Inspect all fall protection equipment prior to use and notify the competent person of any defects or damage

5. Competent Rescuer: a competent rescuer is able to anticipate the potential for a planned rescue and develop rescue procedures and methods accordingly. Competent rescuer duties may be fulfilled by local emergency services, in-house professionals, competent or qualified persons, or contract services. A competent rescuer must also:

  • Have a working knowledge of current fall protection and planned rescue regulations, standards, equipment, and systems
  • Prepare, update, review, and approve the planned rescue procedures assigned by the program administrator
  • Verify that all authorized rescuers have been adequately trained and are capable of performing a rescue
  • Identify and verify all resources needed to conduct a safe and effective rescue
  • Know the hazards associated with rescuing a worker from height and the necessary procedures to mitigate those hazards
  • Verify that the rescue equipment’s markings and instructions are consistent with the national standard (ANSI Z359.2-2007), along with their own rescue procedures
  • Verify that rescue equipment is protected against damage from workplace or environmental conditions
  • Verify that response procedures and rescue performances are assessed and evaluated annually by a competent rescue trainer

6. Authorized Rescuer: an authorized rescuer is responsible for performing and assisting workplace rescues; he or she must have thorough experience and training, along with a working knowledge of the selection, use, storage, and care of all rescue equipment. This knowledge and experience should—at a minimum—include the manufacturer’s recommendations on the use and maintenance of equipment, along with the procedures for use and maintenance as determined by the competent rescuer. An authorized rescuer must also:

  • Participate in the preparation of rescue procedures and rescue drills before fall hazards in the workplace are encountered
  • Inspect rescue equipment according to procedures developed by the competent rescuer and verify that all rescue equipment is protected, in proper working condition, and safe for use
  • Have working knowledge of potential hazards during rescue operations.

7. Qualified Person Trainer: a qualified person trainer has extensive experience and advanced training in applicable fall protection regulations, standards, equipment, and systems. He or she must also:

  • Be familiar with typical fall hazards, fall protection equipment, and best practices used in his or her specific industry
  • Evaluate the fall protection and rescue knowledge of the competent persons he or she is training by administering written tests and skill-based examinations

8. Competent Rescue Trainer: a competent rescue trainer must have working knowledge of applicable fall protection and rescue regulations, standards, equipment, and systems. He or she must be able to evaluate the circumstances and conditions under which a rescue may be required and provide appropriate training. A competent rescue trainer must also:

  • Evaluate the rescue and fall protection knowledge and skills of competent rescuers and administer written tests and skill-based examinations

Don’t forget to check out next week’s blog—Part 3: Training and Evaluation: Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program

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Kristina Harman

Senior Technical Writer |
Kristina Harman was formerly a senior technical writer and content manager for Rigid Lifelines, a division of Spanco, Inc. Kristina has twelve years of experience in content development, technical communications, and copyediting. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in English from Towson University and a Master of Education Certification in English from Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of the Society for Technical Communication and the American Medical Writers Association.