Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|
| Standard Number:||1926.502(d)(16); 1926.502(d)(16)(iii)|
|OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.|
Personal fall arrest systems, when stopping a fall, shall:We recognize both that anchoring at the employee's feet typically would result in exceeding a 6-foot free fall and that there are situations where compliance with the 6-foot free fall limitation is infeasible. OSHA elaborated on this issue in a January 13, 2000 interpretation letter to Mr. Peter G. Chaney of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Inc. The letter discusses the requirements for limiting fall arrest distances and states:
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(iii) be rigged such that an employee can neither free fall more than 6 feet (1.8m), nor contact any lower level.
. . . [U]nder §1926.502(d)(16)(iii), a personal fall arrest system must limit an employee's free fall to not more than six feet. "Free fall" is defined in the standard as "the vertical displacement of the fall arrest attachment point on the employee's ... body harness between onset of the fall and just before the system begins to apply force to arrest the fall." If a 6-foot lanyard is rigged to an anchorage at floor level, the total free fall would be the sum of the vertical distance between the attachment point on the body harness and the floor (usually 4 to 4½ feet) plus the length of the lanyard (6 feet in this example), which totals about 10 feet. That means that the use of a 6-foot lanyard, rigged to an anchorage at the worker's feet would result in a free fall in excess of the 6-foot limit. That would only be allowed where the employer cannot provide a more suitable anchorage or other form of fall protection.In a situation where limiting the free fall to 6 feet is infeasible,1 the employer would be required to limit the free fall to the extent possible and to ensure that the arresting force would not exceed 1,800 pounds (see §1926.502(d)(16)).
|Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|