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The 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.

The 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 pounds.
  • 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 edge.
  • 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.

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