Part 4: Fall Protection Procedures: Minimum Requirements for a Managed Fall Protection Program

According to the National Fall Protection Code, ANSI/ASSE Z359.2-2007, fall protection procedures are an essential part of developing minimum requirements for a comprehensive managed fall protection program. Last week we discussed training and evaluation; this week we are going to discuss part four of the series—fall protection procedures and general requirements.

General Requirements:

Whenever one or more authorized person(s) is routinely exposed to any fall hazard that is protected by an active fall protection system, employers must have written fall protection procedures. ANSI recognizes that there are situations where authorized persons are exposed to fall hazards very rarely. Preparing fall protection procedures for non-routine tasks is wise, but it is not required under this standard. Even so, it is possible to adopt fall protection procedures that briefly describe how to protect authorized persons exposed to non-routine fall hazards.

Written fall protection procedures should document fall protection equipment and systems used to protect authorized persons from fall hazards and the proper way to operate the specified fall protection, including installation, inspection, use, and dismantling. In order to ensure all procedures are properly recorded, it’s important to conduct a fall hazard survey for every workplace activity where authorized persons are exposed to a fall hazard prior to preparing fall protection procedures.

Fall Hazard Survey Report:

According to ANSI Z359.2, “A fall hazard survey report should be prepared for each individual fall hazard to which an authorized person may be exposed. The report should identify one or more methods to eliminate or control each identified hazard.” The purpose of this report is to provide the program administrator with information about each type of fall hazard, the basic configuration of the hazard(s), the exposure rating, the frequency of the job, the height of the potential fall, the suggested corrective solutions(s), and the type of rescue equipment to be used. If multiple fall hazards are identified, the survey should generate a more comprehensive list of the fall hazards on site from highest to lowest priority. This will help arrange solutions to those hazards that present the greatest risk of exposure and injury.

The fall hazard survey should be conducted by a competent or qualified person who is familiar with local work processes, environment, policy, and best industry practices. Employers are responsible for providing appropriate resources, assistance, and personnel as needed to accomplish these responsibilities. The fall hazard survey report should identify all current and predictable work paths for authorized persons, all fall hazards along the work paths, and the locations and distances to obstructions in potential fall paths.

The fall hazard survey report should identify environmental factors that may affect the installation, use, inspection, maintenance, and dismantling of any fall protection system. The report should identify:

  • Hot objects (sparks, flames, heat-producing operations)
  • Chemicals hazardous to the authorized person or fall protection system
  • Electrical hazards
  • Environmental contaminants of any form
  • Sharp objects and abrasive surfaces
  • Moving equipment and materials
  • Unstable, uneven, and slippery walking/working surfaces
  • Unguarded openings
  • Climatic and weather factors
  • Other materials or circumstances which could adversely affect the fall protection system
  • Foreseeable changes in any of these conditions

In order to rank fall hazards, the fall hazard survey report should establish risk factors. The competent person or qualified person should consider the following risk factors when preparing a fall hazard survey report:

  • Reason for exposure
  • Severity of the fall
  • Frequency of the task
  • Duration of the task
  • Occurrence of the task
  • Obstructions in the fall path
  • Existing fall protection systems or equipment
  • Access to the task/structure
  • Environmental conditions
  • Other workers/contractors in the immediate area
  • Proximity to the fall hazard
  • Other safety hazards
  • History of accidents or incidents related to the task or structure

The fall hazard survey report should be written by the competent or qualified person and must be given to the program administrator. Each report should be revised or re-written whenever there’s a change to a task, process, structure, equipment, or legislation.

Minimum Requirements for Fall Protection Procedures:

Fall protection procedures should be written, prepared, and modified by a qualified or competent person. All fall protection procedures should provide 100 percent continuous fall protection. Authorized persons exposed to fall hazards should always be protected by an active or passive fall protection system. Fall protection procedures should include training requirements and the qualifications of authorized persons permitted to use each system. However, the training and qualifications for using fall protection equipment differs depending on the complexity of the system in use. For instance, simple systems like aerial lifts require minimal training. More complex systems such as fall arrest on large buildings may require additional qualifications.

Written fall protection procedures for fall arrest systems should include:

  • The identification of acceptable fall arrest anchorages
  • Clearance requirements
  • Complete setup procedure for access
  • Use and egress from the system
  • Limitations on use of the system, including the maximum free fall, maximum arrest force, and the maximum number and permitted locations of authorized persons who may attach to or use the system

Fall protection procedures for installing and disassembling fall protection equipment should include the following information:

  • A description of components used in the fall protection system, specifying the applicable manufacturers, standard, and/or drawings
  • Required anchorage strengths or other criteria for choosing acceptable anchorages
  • Any limitations on where or how the system can be installed
  • Detailed instructions for assembling the components into the complete fall protection system.
  • Detailed instructions for inspecting each component of the system
  • Fall protection procedures should include a requirement that any incidents, accidents, or near misses be investigated to determine if procedures can be improved

For additional information, please visit ANSI/ASSE Z359.2-2007 American National Standard or ANSI/ASSE Z490.1, Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training for an in-depth look at fall protection procedures and general requirements.


ANSI/ASSE Z359.2-2007 American National Standard

ANSI/ASSE Z490.1 Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training

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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.