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Important things to know

This section is the first of three new sections in subpart D that consolidate requirements relative to fall protection and falling object protection. The others are 1910.29 Fall Protection Systems and Falling Object Protection Criteria and Practices and 1910.30 Training Requirements.

1910.28(a)(1) – the ruling requires employers to provide protection to workers exposed to falls or falling object hazards.

1910.28(b) – eliminates the prior mandateto use guardrails as a primary fall protection method, allowing employers to choose from one or more accepted fall protection systems, they believe work best in each situation their employees may be exposed to, such as:

  1. Guardrail Systems

  2. Safety Net Systems

  3. Personal Fall Protection Systems

  4. Personal Fall Arrest Systems

  5. Travel Restraint Systems

  6. Ladder Safety Systems

  7. Hand Rails

  8. Designated Areas

1910.28(b)(1) – the rule requires employers to protect their workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges, that are 4-feet or greater above a lower level.  Requirements are also set for fall protection in specific situations, such as hoist areas, runways, areas above dangerous equipment, stairways, repair pits, wall openings, or scaffolds.

OSHA defines fall protection as“any equipment, device, or system that prevents a worker from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.” Under the final rule, employers may choose from the following fall protection options:

  1. Guardrail System – A barrier erected along an unprotected or exposed side, edge, or another area of a walking-working surface to prevent workers from falling to a lower level.

  2. Safety Net System – Is a horizontal or semi-horizontal, cantilever-style barrier, which uses a netting system to stop falling workers, before they make contact with a lower level or obstruction.

  3. Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) – A system that arrests/stops a fall before the worker contacts a lower level. Consists of a body harness, anchorage, and connector, and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or a suitable combination. Similar to OSHA’s construction standards, the final rule prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system.

  4. Travel Restraint System – A combination of an anchorage, anchorage connector, lanyard (or other means of connection), and body support, to eliminate the possibility of a worker going over the unprotected edge or side, of a walking-working surface.

  5. Ladder Safety System – A system attached to a fixed ladder designed to eliminate or reduce, the possibility of a worker falling off the ladder. A ladder safety system usually consists of a carrier, safety sleeve, lanyard, connectors, and body harness. Cages and wells are not considered ladder safety systems.


1910.28(b)(3) – the ruling requires employers to protect workers from falling into or through any hole, including skylights, stairway holes, ladderway floor holes, hatchway and chute-floor holes, and other holes on roofs. A “hole” is defined as an open space or gap in the floor, roof, or a horizontal walking-working surface, that is at least 12-inches in its smallest dimension.

The hazard can be addressed with a:

  • Cover over the hole

  • Guardrail system around the hole

  • Travel restraint system, or

  • Personal fall arrest system

Openings pose similar hazards and may be addressed by the above (except a cover), and additionally by the use of a safety net system. 1910.28(b)(7)


1910.28(b)(5) – employers must protect workers on runways or similar walkways, from falling four or more feet to a lower level, by a guardrail. Employers are no longer required to have toeboards on both sides of runways.

  • If not feasible to have a guardrail on both sides of special purpose runways, the employer may omit guardrail on one side, provided the runway is at least 18-inches wide, and the worker uses a personal fall arrest or travel system.

FIXED LADDERS (that extend more than 24 feet above a lower level):

1910.28(b)(9) – requires employers to provide fall protection to fixed ladders more than 24-feet above a lower level. This also applies to existing ladder systems, if sections are repaired or replaced.

  1. For new ladders greater than 24-feet, effective November 19, 2018, they require a personal fall arrest system, or a ladder safety system- such as a parallel cable/rail running alongside, with provisions for tie-off and arrest in the event of a slip or fall.

  2. And by November 19, 2018, for existing ladders greater than 24-feet, employers must install a cage, well, ladder safety system, or personal fall arrest system, on fixed ladders that did not have any fall protection.

  3. Finally, existing ladders extending more than 24-feet must have either a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system by 2036.

  4. In a new provision, OSHA added a rule that allows employers to use cages and wells in combination with personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems, provided there is no interference.


1910.28(b)(11) – requires employers to protect workers from falling off stairway landings and exposed sides of stairways.

  1. Unprotected sides or edges of a stairway landing four feet or more above a lower level, must be protected by a guardrail or stair rail system.  Flights of stairs having at least three treads and four risers, must also be equipped with railing and handrails.

  2. When floor space is limited, requiring the use of the much steeper ship stairs or alternating tread-type stairs (50 to 70 degrees from the horizontal),OSHA also requires these be equipped with handrails on both sides.


1910.28(b)(13) – a new position by OSHA, establishes fall protection requirements when workers perform work on low slope roofs (refer back to page 4 for definition). The type of protection required depends on the distance working from the roof edge.The final rule breaks low slope roof work into three zones.

  1. If less than 6-feet from the edge: acceptable forms of fall protection are guardrails, safety net systems, travel restraint or Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS).

  2. 6-feet to less than 15-feet from the edge: acceptable forms are guardrails, netting, travel restraint, or PFAS. An employer may use a designated area (warning line) when performing work that is both infrequent and temporary.

: An employer is not required to provide any fall protection if work is both infrequent AND temporary (refer back to page 4 for definitions), and they implement and enforce a work rule prohibiting an employee from going within 15- feet of edge, without using fall protection.

15-feet or more from the edge – acceptable forms of fall protection are guardrails, netting, travel restraint or PFAS, or a designated area (warning line).

Important things to know, review more articles OSHAs

OSHA’s – 1910.22 General Requirements

OSHA Recognized 3-Levels of Skill- Work at Height

Important Definitions per OSHA

OSHA’s – 1910.140 Personal Fall Protection Systems

OSHA’s – 1910.29 Fall Protection Systems & Falling Object Protection- Criteria and Practices

OSHA’s – 1910.28 Duty to have Fall Protection & Protection from Falling Objects

OSHA’s – 1910.30 Training Requirements

OSHA’s – 1910.23 Ladders- Fixed and Portable

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