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General Requirements for Performing Work at Heights

Sreenivasa Hassan Jayaram
Manager-Projects, Jones Lang LaSalle India, Bangalore, Karnataka

General Requirements for Performing Work at Heights
A. Duty to provide fall protection – Where employees are required or allowed to walk or work while performing assigned tasks on a shall guard by a standard railing or the equivalent, every open-sided floor or platform 4 feet (1.2m) or more above adjacent floor or ground level on all open sides except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder. Additionally, the railing shall be provided with a toe board when beneath the open sides where; a person can pass, there is moving machinery or there is equipment with which falling materials could create a hazard. In situations where guarding requirements are not applicable because employees are exposed to falls from an elevated surface on other than a predictable and regular basis, personal protective equipment or another effective fall protection methods shall be provided.

B. Fall Protection Hierarchy of Controls – The following establishes fall protection hierarchy of controls. It is the order of priority in which fall protection solutions shall be applied when performing a working at heights assessment.

i. Can the work be performed at ground level?

ii. Can the fall hazard be eliminated through the use of engineering controls such as guardrails,
covers or guarded work platforms?

iii. Can an alternative work platform such as a MEWP or scaffold be used to safely access the work?

iv. Can a fall/travel restraint system be used to eliminate the risk of a fall?

v. Can a fall arrest system be used to stop the worker from hitting the lower level in the event of a fall?

vi. When the above options are determined infeasible, consult the local EHS team for further guidance.

C. Fall Hazard Assessment – Prior to commencing any task involving working at heights an assessment of the work area must be completed. It is the site’s responsibility to identify safe methods of work using a site approved planning technique. The working at heights assessment should address: total fall distance needed, fall protection devices to be used, obstruction(s), swing fall hazards as well as rescue planning.


D. Fall Protection General Requirements
i. Personal fall arrest systems or components shall be used only for the purpose of employee fall protection.

ii. Use of fall protection equipment is permitted only after the user has been trained per manufacturer’s instructions on its specific use, inspection and care requirements.

iii. Personal fall arrest systems (including the anchorage, body harness and all connecting components) shall be inspected prior to each use and defective components shall be tagged and/or removed from service.

iv. Personal fall arrest systems or components subjected to impact loading shall be immediately removed from service and shall not be used again for employee protection unless determined by a competent person suitable for reuse.

v. Manufacturer’s requirements shall be followed related to equipment use, inspection, maintenance, storage and care.

vi. Manufacturer’s labels that come attached to working at heights equipment shall be left on the equipment. Equipment found without manufacturer’s labels shall be taken out of service and tagged to prevent further use.

vii. Component compatibility is to be validated before use.

viii. Use of body belts for fall arrest is prohibited.

Reference and Acknowledgement
[1] Fall Protection Program by OSHA guidelines
[2] Working At Height Guidelines, Version II, 21st September 2011


We at are thankful to Sir Sreenivasa Hassan Jayaram for submitting this paper to us.

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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