Evaluating Hazards of Falls Through Roof/Floor Openings
Data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational
Injuries indicate that falls are one of the leading causes of death in the
workplace, many of which are through roof/floor openings.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed
standards for workers in general industry and in construction to prevent falls
through roof and floor openings, as well as skylights. The OSHA General
Industry Standard requires that “every skylight, floor opening and hole shall
be guarded by a standard skylight screen or a fixed standard railing on all
Supervisors can use this self-inspection checklist to evaluate their fall
Is each worker protected from falling through roof and floor openings by a
personal fall arrest system, covers or guardrail systems erected around such
Do personal fall arrest systems consist of an anchorage, connectors, a body
belt or body harness (they also may include a lanyard, deceleration device,
lifeline or suitable combinations of these)?
Is the use of body belts for fall arrest prohibited?
Are anchorages used for attachment of personal fall arrest equipment,
independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms?
Are anchorages used for attachment of personal fall arrest equipment capable of
supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2kN) per worker attached?
Are covers located in roadways and vehicular aisles capable of supporting,
without failure, at least twice the maximum axle load of the largest vehicle
expected to cross over the cover?
Are covers capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the weight of
workers, equipment and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one
Are covers secured so as to prevent displacement by the wind, equipment or
Are covers color-coded, or marked “HOLE” or “COVER,” to provide warning of the
When the hole is not in use, is it closed with a cover or a guardrail system?
When guardrails are used, are they erected on all unprotected sides or edges of
Are railings around openings made with a top rail, intermediate rail and posts,
and do they have a vertical height of 42 in (106.7 cm) from upper surface of
top rail to floor, platform, runway or ramp level?
Is the top rail smooth-surfaced throughout the length of the railing?
Is the intermediate rail placed halfway between the top rail and the floor
Are the ends of the rails made so they do not overhang the terminal posts,
except where such overhang does not constitute a projection hazard?
When guardrails are used around holes used for the passage of materials, are
not more than two sides provided with removable guardrail sections to allow the
passage of materials?
When guardrails are used as points of access, are they provided with a gate or
offset so that a person cannot walk directly into a hole?
Are skylight screens in good repair? OSHA requires that they be capable of
withstanding a load of at least 200 lb (90 kg).
COPYRIGHT ©2004, ISO Services Properties, Inc.