Warning Line Systems as Fall Protection

title of today’s posting may conjure an image of folks standing
shoulder-to-shoulder on top of a structure yelling out warnings to team members
below, so we thought it would be beneficial to review what a warning line
actually is and what the guidelines are when used as fall protection.

warning line is a rope, wire, or chain, along with supporting stanchions that
is erected around all sides of the work area. OSHA imposes certain requirements
when the warning line is used as fall protection for roofing activities on
low-slope roofs with unprotected sides, including:

  • The
    rope, wire, or chain shall be rigged and supported in such a way that its
    lowest point (including sag) is no less than 34” from the walking/working
    surface and its highest point is no more than 39” from that same surface.
  • The
    line, attached at each stanchion, must be capable of resisting the force of at
    least 16 pounds without tipping over and have a minimum tensile strength of 500
  • The
    line must be erected in such a way that pulling on one section will not result
    in slack being taken up in adjacent sections before the stanchion tips over.
  • The
    rope, wire, or chain shall be flagged at no more than 6-foot intervals with
    high-visibility material
  • When mechanical equipment is not
    being used, the warning line shall be erected not less than 6 feet from the
    roof edge.
  • When mechanical equipment is being
    used, the warning line shall be erected not less than 10 feet from the roof
  • Points of access, materials
    handling areas, storage areas, and hoisting areas shall be connected to the
    work area by an access path formed by two warning lines.
  • When the path to a point of access
    is not in use, a barricade equivalent in strength and height to the warning
    line shall be placed across the path or the path shall be offset such that a
    person cannot walk directly into the work area.
  • No employee shall be allowed in
    the area between the roof edge and the warning line unless protected by the use
    of a personal fall arrest system.
More information regarding the use of warning lines can be found online at www.osha.gov.