Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) » Fall Protection Equipment

Work positioning equipment: body belt and pole strap

Two types of fall protection equipment are used in power generation, transmission, and distribution work—work positioning and fall arrest equipment. Workers (except for qualified climbers, as noted below) must use this fall protection if they are working at elevated locations more than 4 feet above the ground on poles, towers, or similar structures if other fall protection (for example, railings) has not been provided. [See 1910.269(g)(2)].

Work positioning equipment consists of a body belt and pole strap used by overhead line workers on poles and towers. This equipment keeps line workers from falling, while allowing their hands to be free to perform work. Line workers who have been trained and have demonstrated proficiency in climbing are considered "qualified climbers" and do not need to use fall protection equipment when ascending, descending, or changing positions on poles or towers unless there are conditions that could cause workers to lose their grip or footing. Conditions that may necessitate "qualified climbers" needing to use fall protection equipment when ascending, descending, or changing positions can include bad weather (high winds, ice, or snow) or certain configurations of the structure being climbed. In such cases, a fall arrest system must be used at all times. [See 1910.269(g)(2)].

Fall protection: body harness and lanyard connected to anchor point

Fall arrest equipment comes in many forms. For power generation, transmission, and distribution work, workers commonly use a body harness with a shock-absorbing lanyard. Unqualified climbers must wear fall arrest equipment at all times while climbing and otherwise working aloft. The equipment must be rigged so that a worker cannot fall more than 6 feet or contact any lower level. [See 1910.269(g)(2)(vi)(C)].

While working in a bucket or basket, workers must wear fall protection equipment with the lanyard connected to an anchor point on the boom or bucket/basket. 1910.67 requires this because mechanical failures have resulted in buckets flipping or separating from the boom, causing workers to fall. Incidents also have occurred in which line trucks have been struck by passing vehicles, launching a worker out of the bucket. [See 1910.67(c)(2)(v)].

When working at elevations of 6 feet or more above the next lower level (such as on station transformers), workers engaged in construction work must also wear fall arrest equipment with the lanyard attached to a proper anchor point, unless the edges of the surface are protected by a guardrail or safety net. [See 1926.501(b)].

1910.269 Photo credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory


1910.269(g)(2) on fall protection (1910.269(g)(2)(iii) - inspection)

1910.67 and 1926.501 on lanyard and anchor point connections

Design requirements: 1926.959 - work positioning equipment and 1926.502 - fall arrest equipment

§ 1910.269

OSHA may change the design and use requirements for fall protection equipment. See the proposed rule for additional information.

Design requirements. Most of the above fall protection equipment has minimum design requirements for materials, strength, snap hooks, D-rings, attachment points, and other items. Although these design requirements are specified in OSHA's Construction Industry Standard in 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart M, they apply to 269 work. [See 1910.269(g)(2)(i)] See also 1926.959 on work positioning equipment and 1926.502 on fall arrest equipment design requirements]. These minimum requirements should be included in purchase order specifications.

Inspection of fall equipment. All fall protection and work positioning equipment must be inspected before use each day and cannot be used if any defects are present. The best practice is to inspect the equipment before each use, rather than only once daily [1910.269(g)(2)(iii)].