Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Fall Protection Definitions

Anchor point - a secure point of attachment for equipment such as lifelines, lanyards, deceleration devices, and rope descent systems.

Authorized - an employee who the employer assigns to perform a specific type of duty, or allows in a specific location or area.

Competent person means one who has been trained to identify hazards related to scaffolding, or working conditions that are unsafe, unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous for employees, and who has the authority to have these hazards eliminated or controlled.

Connecting device - a flexible line used to secure a body harness to a lifeline or directly to a point of anchorage.

Deceleration device - (shock-absorber) any mechanism which serves to dissipate energy during a fall.

Deceleration distance - the additional vertical distance a falling person travels, excluding lifeline elongation, before stopping, from the point at which the deceleration device begins to operate.

Designated area - a distinct portion of a walking-working surface delineated by a warning line in which employees may perform work without additional fall protection.

Fall arrest - a system used to stop a fall from heights and decrease the impact of forces on a body to minimize the extent of injury. It consists of an anchor point, connecting device (i.e. lanyard or fall limiter with shock absorber), and full body harness.

Fall hazard - any condition on a walking-working surface that exposes an employee to a risk of harm from a fall on the same level or to a lower level.

Fall protection - any equipment, device, or system that prevents an employee from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.

Fall restriant - equipment used to keep a person from reaching a fall point, such as the edge of a roof or the edge of an elevated working surface.

Free fall - the act of falling - before the personal fall protection system begins to arrest the fall.

Free fall distance - the vertical distance a person falls before the fall arresting system begins to arrest the fall.

Guardrail system - a barrier erected along an unprotected or exposed side, edge, or other area of a walking-working surface to prevent employees from falling to a lower level.

Hardware - buckles, D-rings, snap-hooks, and associated components which are used to attach parts of the personal fall arrest system together.

Harness - has straps that secure around the person wearing it in a manner to distribute the fall arrest forces over at least the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest, and shoulders, with a means for attaching the harness to other components of a personal fall protection system.

Hole - a gap or open space in a floor, roof, horizontal walking-working surface, or similar surface that is at least 2 inches in its least dimension.

Lifeline - a component of a personal fall protection system consisting of a flexible line for connection to an anchorage at one end so as to hand vertically (vertical lifeline), or for connection to anchorages at both ends so as to stretch horizontally (horizontal lifeline), and serves as a means for connecting other components of the system to the anchorage.

Low-slope roof - a roof that has a slope less than or equal to a ratio of 4 to 12 (inches, vertical to horizontal).

Lower level - a surface or area to which an employee could fall (ex. ground levels, floors, roofs, ramps, runways, excavations, pits, tanks, materials, water, equipment, and similar surfaces and structures, or portions thereof).

Opening - a gap or open space in a wall, partition, vertical walking-working surface, or similar surface with dimensions that are at least 30 inches high and at least 18 inches wide, through which an employee can fall to a lower level. If the inside bottom edge of the opening is less than 39 inches above the walking-working surface, and the outside bottom edge of the opening is 4 feet or move above the next lower level, fall protection is required.

Personal fall arrest system - a system used to arrest an employee's fall. It consists of an anchorage point, connectors (i.e. lanyard or connecting device), and a body harness.

Positioning system - a system of equipment and connectors that, when used with a body harness, allows an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall or window sill, and work with both hands free.

Retractable lifeline - an automatic tensioning line that pays out and retracts a line at a certain speed and locks or brakes when the speed is exceeded. A type of connecting device.

Qualified person - one who by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, trainig, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his/her ability to solve or resolve problems related to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

Self-retracting lifeline/lanyard - a deceleration device containing a drum-wound line that can be slowly extracted from, or retracted onto, the drum under slight tension during normal movement by a person. At the onset of a fall, the device automatically locks the drum and arrests the fall.

Shock-absorbing lanyard - a design which elongates during a fall to significantly reduce fall arresting forces. Also known as a deceleration device.

Snap-hook - a self-closing device with a keeper, latch, or other similar arrangement which will remain closed until manually opened.

Travel Restraint System - a combination of an anchorage, anchorage connector, lanyard (or other means of connection), and body support that a person uses to eliminate the possibility of a person going over the edge of a walking-working surface.

Unprotected sides and edges - any side or edge of a walking-working surface (except at entrances and other points of access) where there is no wall, guardrail sytem, or stair rail system to protect an employee from falling to a lower level.

Walking-working surface - any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area in which work may take place without the use of other means of fall protection.

Warning line - a barrier erected to warn employees that they are approaching an unprotected side or edge, and which designates an area in which work may take place without the use of other means of fall protection.