HEART & HEALTH SAFETY BLOG
What is the maximum distance between support posts for guardrails? The regulations do not specify a maximum distance between the supporting posts. However, the guardrail must be strong enough to support 200 pounds of force applied horizontally, which may affect the spacing. In addition, if the guardrail has intermediate vertical members (upright between the top and bottom rails), the gaps should be no more that 19 inches (see 1910.29).
Do cages have to be removed from fixed ladders? No, cages do not have to be removed from fixed ladders, whether over 24 feet. The regulations explicitly address this at 1910.28(b)(9)(iv), stating, "The employer may have a cage or well in combination with a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system provided that the cage does not interfere with the operation of the system." OSHA noted that cages or wells may allow workers rest while climbing and working on fixed ladders.
When can I use a designated area for fall protection? A designated area may be used when working on low-slope roofs (also called flat roofs) in two situations. First, if employees will be working 15 feet or more from the edge, a designated area may be used; at the distance, it does not matter how long workers are on the roof. Second, if the work will be at least 6 feet (but less than 15 feet) from the edge, a designated area may be used if the work is temporary and infrequent, such as changing an air conditioner filter once per month. For work performed within 6 feet of the edge, a designated area cannot be used.
Can we use chains as fall protection at a loading dock? Maybe. OSHA does not specifically allow or prohibit chains. If used, chains must be equivalent to a guardrail, so at least two chains would be needed because a guardrail must have a top rail and mid rail. A single chain would be a violation. additionaly, the chains must be able to withstand 200 pounds of force and should be tight enough, so that a person could not fall between the chains and dock's edge.
Are wheels chocks required for trailers at loading docks? Employers must use some method to prevent the trailer from moving. OSHA gives examples of wheel chocks or sand shoes, but other methods could be effective, such as dock locks. Note that even if the dock ramp is inclined so the trailer sits at an angle, a trailer could still move, so additional methods (like chocks or locks) would still be required to prevent movement.
How often do portable ladders have to be inspected? Any portable ladder (whether wood or metal) must be inspected before the first use of each shift. A best practice is to have a competent person conduct an annual inspection of each ladder and apply a documented ladder tag. The first time a ladder is taken out for use during each shift, it must be checked for defects. If any problems are found, the ladder must be removed from service for repair or replacement.
FAQ's On Walking-Working Surfaces. When the revisions to the walking-working surface regulations took effect in January 2017, they included quite a number of changes.