OSHA Defense

Understanding OSHA 1926.502: Warning Lines featured image

Understanding OSHA 1926.502: Warning Lines

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires contractors to provide fall protection for employees who perform work on surfaces with open sides and edges, sloping roofs, steep roofs, leading edges, and any surface that is six feet or more above lower levels. In section 1926.502 of OSHA Regulations, a number of fall protection systems that are acceptable to meet this requirement are provided. Warning line systems are considered to be an acceptable means of fall protection for employees who are engaged in roofing activities on surfaces with unprotected sides that are 6 feet or more above lower levels.

A warning system may be used in conjunction with another OSHA approved fall protection system, such as a warning-line system and guardrail system; a warning-line system and safety net system; a warning-line system and personal fall-arrest system; or a warning-line system with a safety-monitoring system (roofers only). The use of a warning line system alone is unacceptable and will only be considered a de minimis violation if the following conditions are met:

  • The warning line is at least 15 feet from the edge;
  • The warning line meets or exceeds OSHA’s setup requirements;
  • No work will be performed between the edge and the warning line;
  • Employees are prohibited from going past the warning line.

Warning Line System Requirements

OSHA requires warning line systems to consist of ropes, wires, or chains with a minimum tensile strength of 500lbs. which are supported by stanchions that are designed to withstand being tipped by 16 pounds of pressure 30” from the walking or working surface. The work area must be surrounded by the warning line and must be at least six feet from all sides. The warning line must be marked at least every 6 feet with high-visibility material and remain between 34”-39” from walking or working spaces. The individual sections of the warning line must be independent of each other. Meaning, if the line of one section is pulled in one way, the other sections are not affected.

Warning Lines and Machinery

According to OSHA 1926.502, if machinery is to be used in the work area, the warning line must be erected no less than six feet from the roof edge parallel to the equipment’s line of travel and must be ten feet from the edge that is perpendicular to the equipment’s line of travel.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.