• Part Number:
  • Part Number Title:
    Safety and Health Regulations for Construction
  • Subpart:
    1926 Subpart M
  • Subpart Title:
    Fall Protection
  • Standard Number:
  • Title:
    Scope, application, and definitions applicable to this subpart.
  • GPO Source:

Scope and application.

This subpart sets forth requirements and criteria for fall protection in construction workplaces covered under 29 CFR part 1926. Exception: The provisions of this subpart do not apply when employees are making an inspection, investigation, or assessment of workplace conditions prior to the actual start of construction work or after all construction work has been completed.
Section 1926.501 sets forth those workplaces, conditions, operations, and circumstances for which fall protection shall be provided except as follows:
Requirements relating to fall protection for employees working on scaffolds are provided in subpart L of this part.
Requirements relating to fall protection for employees working on cranes and derricks are provided in subpart CC of this part.
Fall protection requirements for employees performing steel erection work (except for towers and tanks) are provided in subpart R of this part.
Requirements relating to fall protection for employees working on certain types of equipment used in tunneling operations are provided in subpart S of this part.
Requirements relating to fall protection for employees engaged in the erection of tanks and communication and broadcast towers are provided in § 1926.105.
Subpart V of this part provides requirements relating to fall protection for employees working from aerial lifts or on poles, towers, or similar structures while engaged in the construction of electric transmission or distribution lines or equipment.
Requirements relating to fall protection for employees working on stairways and ladders are provided in subpart X of this part.
Section 1926.502 sets forth the requirements for the installation, construction, and proper use of fall protection required by part 1926, except as follows:
Performance requirements for guardrail systems used on scaffolds and performance requirements for falling object protection used on scaffolds are provided in subpart L of this part.
Performance requirements for stairways, stairrail systems, and handrails are provided in subpart X of this part.

Additional performance requirements for fall arrest and work-positioning equipment are provided in subpart V of this part.

Section 1926.502 does not apply to the erection of tanks and communication and broadcast towers. (Note: Section 1926.104 sets the criteria for body belts, lanyards and lifelines used for fall protection during tank and communication and broadcast tower erection. Paragraphs (b),(c) and (f) of § 1926.107 provide definitions for the pertinent terms.)
Criteria for steps, handholds, ladders, and grabrails/guardrails/railings required by subpart CC are provided in subpart CC. Sections 1926.502(a), (c) through (e), and (i) apply to activities covered under subpart CC unless otherwise stated in subpart CC. No other paragraphs of § 1926.502 apply to subpart CC.
Section 1926.503 sets forth requirements for training in the installation and use of fall protection systems, except in relation to steel erection activities and the use of equipment covered by subpart CC.


Anchorage means a secure point of attachment for lifelines, lanyards or deceleration devices.

Body belt (safety belt) means a strap with means both for securing it about the waist and for attaching it to a lanyard, lifeline, or deceleration device.

Body harness means straps which may be secured about the employee in a manner that will distribute the fall arrest forces over at least the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest and shoulders with means for attaching it to other components of a personal fall arrest system.

Buckle means any device for holding the body belt or body harness closed around the employee's body.

Connector means a device which is used to couple (connect) parts of the personal fall arrest system and positioning device systems together. It may be an independent component of the system, such as a carabiner, or it may be an integral component of part of the system (such as a buckle or dee-ring sewn into a body belt or body harness, or a snap-hook spliced or sewn to a lanyard or self-retracting lanyard).

Controlled access zone (CAZ) means an area in which certain work (e.g., overhand bricklaying) may take place without the use of guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, or safety net systems and access to the zone is controlled.

Dangerous equipment means equipment (such as pickling or galvanizing tanks, degreasing units, machinery, electrical equipment, and other units) which, as a result of form or function, may be hazardous to employees who fall onto or into such equipment.

Deceleration device means any mechanism, such as a rope grab, rip-stitch lanyard, specially-woven lanyard, tearing or deforming lanyards, automatic self-retracting lifelines/lanyards, etc., which serves to dissipate a substantial amount of energy during a fall arrest, or otherwise limit the energy imposed on an employee during fall arrest.

Deceleration distance means the additional vertical distance a falling employee travels, excluding lifeline elongation and free fall distance, before stopping, from the point at which the deceleration device begins to operate. It is measured as the distance between the location of an employee's body belt or body harness attachment point at the moment of activation (at the onset of fall arrest forces) of the deceleration device during a fall, and the location of that attachment point after the employee comes to a full stop.

Equivalent means alternative designs, materials, or methods to protect against a hazard which the employer can demonstrate will provide an equal or greater degree of safety for employees than the methods, materials or designs specified in the standard.

Failure means load refusal, breakage, or separation of component parts. Load refusal is the point where the ultimate strength is exceeded.

Free fall means the act of falling before a personal fall arrest system begins to apply force to arrest the fall.

Free fall distance means the vertical displacement of the fall arrest attachment point on the employee's body belt or body harness between onset of the fall and just before the system begins to apply force to arrest the fall. This distance excludes deceleration distance, and lifeline/lanyard elongation, but includes any deceleration device slide distance or self-retracting lifeline/lanyard extension before they operate and fall arrest forces occur.

Guardrail system means a barrier erected to prevent employees from falling to lower levels.

Hole means a gap or void 2 inches (5.1 cm) or more in its least dimension, in a floor, roof, or other walking/working surface.

Infeasible means that it is impossible to perform the construction work using a conventional fall protection system (i.e., guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system) or that it is technologically impossible to use any one of these systems to provide fall protection.

Lanyard means a flexible line of rope, wire rope, or strap which generally has a connector at each end for connecting the body belt or body harness to a deceleration device, lifeline, or anchorage.

Leading edge means the edge of a floor, roof, or formwork for a floor or other walking/working surface (such as the deck) which changes location as additional floor, roof, decking, or formwork sections are placed, formed, or constructed. A leading edge is considered to be an "unprotected side and edge" during periods when it is not actively and continuously under construction.

Lifeline means a component consisting of a flexible line for connection to an anchorage at one end to hang vertically (vertical lifeline), or for connection to anchorages at both ends to stretch horizontally (horizontal lifeline), and which serves as a means for connecting other components of a personal fall arrest system to the anchorage.

Low-slope roof means a roof having a slope less than or equal to 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal).

Lower levels means those areas or surfaces to which an employee can fall. Such areas or surfaces include, but are not limited to, ground levels, floors, platforms, ramps, runways, excavations, pits, tanks, material, water, equipment, structures, or portions thereof.

Mechanical equipment means all motor or human propelled wheeled equipment used for roofing work, except wheelbarrows and mopcarts.

Opening means a gap or void 30 inches (76 cm) or more high and 18 inches (48 cm) or more wide, in a wall or partition, through which employees can fall to a lower level.

Overhand bricklaying and related work means the process of laying bricks and masonry units such that the surface of the wall to be jointed is on the opposite side of the wall from the mason, requiring the mason to lean over the wall to complete the work. Related work includes mason tending and electrical installation incorporated into the brick wall during the overhand bricklaying process.

Personal fall arrest system means a system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a working level. It consists of an anchorage, connectors, a body belt or body harness and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or suitable combinations of these. As of January 1, 1998, the use of a body belt for fall arrest is prohibited.

Positioning device system means a body belt or body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning.

Rope grab means a deceleration device which travels on a lifeline and automatically, by friction, engages the lifeline and locks so as to arrest the fall of an employee. A rope grab usually employs the principle of inertial locking, cam/level locking, or both.

Roof means the exterior surface on the top of a building. This does not include floors or formwork which, because a building has not been completed, temporarily become the top surface of a building.

Roofing work means the hoisting, storage, application, and removal of roofing materials and equipment, including related insulation, sheet metal, and vapor barrier work, but not including the construction of the roof deck.

Safety-monitoring system means a safety system in which a competent person is responsible for recognizing and warning employees of fall hazards.

Self-retracting lifeline/lanyard means a deceleration device containing a drum-wound line which can be slowly extracted from, or retracted onto, the drum under slight tension during normal employee movement, and which, after onset of a fall, automatically locks the drum and arrests the fall.

Snaphook means a connector comprised of a hook-shaped member with a normally closed keeper, or similar arrangement, which may be opened to permit the hook to receive an object and, when released, automatically closes to retain the object. Snaphooks are generally one of two types:

The locking type with a self-closing, self-locking keeper which remains closed and locked until unlocked and pressed open for connection or disconnection; or
The non-locking type with a self-closing keeper which remains closed until pressed open for connection or disconnection. As of January 1, 1998, the use of a non-locking snaphook as part of personal fall arrest systems and positioning device systems is prohibited.

Steep roof means a roof having a slope greater than 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal).

Toeboard means a low protective barrier that will prevent the fall of materials and equipment to lower levels and provide protection from falls for personnel.

Unprotected sides and edges means any side or edge (except at entrances to points of access) of a walking/working surface, e.g., floor, roof, ramp, or runway where there is no wall or guardrail system at least 39 inches (1.0 m) high.

Walking/working surface means any surface, whether horizontal or vertical on which an employee walks or works, including, but not limited to, floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, formwork and concrete reinforcing steel but not including ladders, vehicles, or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their job duties.

Warning line system means a barrier erected on a roof to warn employees that they are approaching an unprotected roof side or edge, and which designates an area in which roofing work may take place without the use of guardrail, body belt, or safety net systems to protect employees in the area.

Work area means that portion of a walking/working surface where job duties are being performed.

[44 FR 8577, Feb. 9, 1979; 44 FR 20940, Apr. 6, 1979, as amended at 45 FR 75625, Nov. 14. 1980; 55 FR 47687, Nov. 14, 1990; 59 FR 40730, Aug. 9, 1994; 60 FR 5131, Jan. 26, 1995; 60 FR 39254, Aug. 2, 1995; 66 FR 5265, Jan. 18, 2001; 75 FR 48133, Aug. 9, 2010; 79 FR 20696, July 10, 2014]