Shipbreaking >> Use of Personal Fall Protection Systems

Figure 1: Worker protected with a retractable lifeline and body harness

Potential Hazards

  • Falls caused by failure to use fall protection
  • Injuries due to improper use of fall protection equipment

Requirements and Example Solutions


  • Before use, workers must be trained to understand [29 CFR 1915.159(d), 29 CFR 1915.160(d)]:
    • The application limits (for example maximum permitted free falls, distance needed below to stop before hitting lower levels or objects, minimizing swing falls, etc.) of the equipment
    • Proper hook-up, anchoring, and tie-off techniques
    • Proper use, inspection, and storage of equipment
  • Personal fall protection systems must not be used for other purposes such as hoisting materials. [29 CFR 1915.159(c)(9)]



  • Workers must attach to an anchorage of sufficient strength (5,000 pounds). [29 CFR 1915.159(a)(9)]
  • Workers must use anchorage points independent of the scaffold supporting system. [29 CFR 1915.159(a)(8)]
  • Positioning device systems must be secured to an anchorage capable of supporting at least twice the potential impact load of a worker's fall. [29 CFR 1915.160(a)(3)]
Figure 2: Worker protected with lifeline and shock absorber

Lifelines and Lanyards

  • Each worker must be provided with their own separate vertical lifeline. [29 CFR 1915.159(b)(1)]
  • Horizontal lifelines must be designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a qualified person. [29 CFR 1915.159(b)(5)]
  • Workers must use systems that are rigged to prevent free fall of more than six feet or contact with the lower level. [29 CFR 1915.159(b)(7)]
  • Lifelines and lanyards must be protected against damage such as cuts, abrasions, burns (hot work), acids, and solvents. [29 CFR 1915.159(c)(4)]
Figure 3: D-Ring and Snap-hook

Snap Hooks and D-Rings

  • Workers must use locking snaphooks. [29 CFR 1915.159, 29 CFR 1915.160(a)(4)].
  • Snaphooks, unless designed for such connections, must not be connected to: [29 CFR 1915.159(a)(6)]
    • Webbing, rope or wire rope
    • Other snaphooks
    • D-rings to which other snaphooks or connectors are attached
    • Horizontal lifelines
    • Other objects such as eye bolts that are incompatible
Figure 4: Work being rescued from fall in enclosed space


Potential Hazards

  • Falls due to anchorage or equipment failure
  • Injuries (for example damage to internal organs, fractures, abrasions) due to the use of improper fall protection equipment

Requirements and Example Solutions

  • Personal fall protection systems must meet the design, strength, and testing requirements for the equipment. [29 CFR 1915.159, 29 CFR 1915.160, and Subpart I Appendix B]
  • Design requirements include:
    • Maximum permitted arrest forces
    • Minimum system strength
    • Maximum permitted stopping distances
    • Component strength
    • Proof testing
    • Corrosion-resistant materials
    • Compatibility requirements

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