Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1926.502(d)(16); 1926.502(d)(16)(iii)

September 12, 2012

Dr. Joshua T. Chard, Ph.D.
Altec Industries, Inc.
33 Inverness Center Parkway
Birmingham, AL, 35242


Dear Dr. Chard:

Thank you for your January 18, 2012, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Construction. You have specific questions regarding the application of the OSHA fall protection standard as it applies to the use of a personal fall arrest system on an aerial lift, specifically 29 CFR 1926.502(d)(16). This letter is OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed.1

Question 1: Will OSHA consider the use of a personal fall arrest system that meets the criteria and protocols contained in appendix C to subpart M - Fall Protection to be in compliance with the provisions of §1926.502(d)(16)?

Reply: Yes. As you know, OSHA's standard at 29 CFR 1926.502(d) addresses personal fall arrest systems, and subparagraph 502(d)(16) specifically includes criteria for such devices when stopping a fall. Appendix C is provided to serve as a guide to assist employers in complying with the test requirements of §1926.502(d).

A note to §1926.502(d)(16) states:

If the personal fall arrest system meets the criteria and protocols contained in appendix C to subpart M, and if the system is being used by an employee having a combined person and tool weight of less than 310 pounds (140 kg), the system will be considered to be in compliance with the provisions of paragraph (d)(16) of this section.

Appendix C states:

[S]erves as a non-mandatory guideline to assist employers comply with the requirements in §1926.502(d). Paragraphs (b), (c), (d) and (e) of this paragraph describe test procedures which may be used to determine compliance with the requirements in §1926.502(d)(16).

Therefore, if an employer can verify that a personal fall arrest system meets the criteria and protocols in Appendix C, then OSHA will consider the equipment to be in compliance.

Question 2: Will OSHA consider the use of a personal fall arrest system tested using the criteria and protocols contained in Appendix C to subpart M - Fall Protection to be in compliance with §1926.502(d)(16)(iii)?

Reply: Section 1926.502(d)(16)(iii) states:

Personal fall arrest systems, when stopping a fall, shall be rigged such that an employee can neither free fall more than 6 feet (1.8 m), nor contact any lower level.

Appendix C provides guidelines on how employers can determine whether a particular personal fall arrest system will meet the requirements of §1926.502(d)(16)(iii). However, it is important to note that the guidelines in appendix C are not an alternative means of compliance. The guidelines only provide testing procedures to determine whether a system is in compliance.2 The tests in appendix C are useful to employers and manufacturers because equipment that passes the tests will meet the requirements of the standard when properly used under similar conditions.

Appendix C (d)(2)(iii) states:

The test weight should fall free from the anchorage level to its hanging location (a total of 6 feet (1.83 m) free fall distance) without interference, obstruction, or hitting the floor or ground during the test.

OSHA will consider a personal fall arrest system tested using the criteria and protocols in appendix C to be in compliance with §1926.502(d)(16)(iii). However, in order for such equipment to remain in compliance, it must be used properly by employees, and be in the same condition as when successfully tested.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and their application to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that changes to OSHA rules may affect our enforcement guidance. In addition, 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. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Construction at 202-693-2020.

Sincerely,

James G. Maddux, Director
Directorate of Construction


1On August 22, 2011, OSHA issued guidance to the regional administrators regarding the use of fall protection on aerial lifts during construction activities. This memorandum is found here:
http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=27731 [back to Letter]

2 Note that Appendix C (d)(2)(iii) requires that the lanyard length should be 6 feet plus or minus two inches (1.83 m plus or minus 5 cm) as measured form the fixed anchorage to the attachment on the body belt or body harness. If testing a lanyard of a shorter length, a registered professional engineer must modify the testing procedures accordingly. [back to Letter]


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents