Fall Safety Osha Definitions and Terms -Education


At Colorado Safety Supply we feel it is important to go over the entry level information about Fall Safety Protection every once in a while, for a refresher of sorts. In this two-part blog we will treat what is below like a Fall Protection 101 class and list off the basic definitions of Fall Protection Safety as officially described by the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Please feel free to share this with your employees old and new for some insight into the world of Fall Protection Safety.


Personal Fall Protection Systems Requirements


1910.140(a) 29 CFR 1910.140(b)


Scope and application. This section establishes performance, care, and use criteria for all personal fall protection systems. The employer must ensure that each personal fall protection system used to comply with this part must meet the requirements of this section.


Anchorage means a secure point of attachment for equipment, such as lifelines, lanyards, or deceleration devices.

 Belt terminal means an end attachment of a window cleaner’s positioning system used for securing the belt or harness to a window cleaner’s belt anchor.

 Body belt means a strap with means both for securing about the waist and for attaching to other components such as a lanyard used with positioning systems, travel restraint systems, or ladder safety systems.

 Body harness means straps that secure the employee 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.

 Carabiner means a connector generally composed of a trapezoidal- or oval-shaped body with a closed gate or similar arrangement that may be opened to attach another object and, when released, automatically closes to retain the object.

 Competent person means a person who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in any personal fall protection system or any component of it, as well as in the system application and uses with related equipment, and who has authorization to take prompt, corrective action to eliminate the identified hazards.

 Connector means a device used to couple (connect) parts of the fall protection system together.

 D-ring means a connector used:

 In a harness as an integral attachment element or fall arrest attachment;

In a lanyard, energy absorber, lifeline, or anchorage connector as an integral connector; or

In a positioning or travel restraint system as an attachment element.


 Deceleration device means any mechanism that serves to dissipate energy during a fall.

 Deceleration distance means the vertical distance a falling employee travels from the point at which the deceleration device begins to operate, excluding lifeline elongation and free-fall distance, until stopping. It is measured as the distance between the location of an employee’s body harness attachment point at the moment of activation (at the onset of fall arrest forces) of the deceleration device during a fall, and the location of that attachment point after the employee comes to a full stop.

 Equivalent means alternative designs, equipment, materials, or methods that the employer can demonstrate will provide an equal or greater degree of safety for employees compared to the designs, equipment, materials, or methods specified in the standard.

 Free-fall means the act of falling before the personal fall arrest system begins to apply force to arrest the fall.

 Free-fall distance means the vertical displacement of the fall arrest attachment point on the employee's body belt or body harness between onset of the fall and just before the system begins to apply force to arrest the fall. This distance excludes deceleration distance, lifeline and lanyard elongation, but includes any deceleration device slide distance or self-retracting lifeline/lanyard extension before the devices operate and fall arrest forces occur.

 Lanyard means a flexible line of rope, wire rope, or strap that generally has a connector at each end for connecting the body belt or body harness to a deceleration device, lifeline, or anchorage.

 Lifeline means a component of a personal fall protection system consisting of a flexible line for connection to an anchorage at one end so as to hang 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.

 Personal fall arrest system means a system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a walking-working surface. It consists of a body harness, anchorage, and connector. The means of connection may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or a suitable combination of these.

 Personal fall protection system means a system (including all components) an employer uses to provide protection from falling or to safely arrest an employee’s fall if one occurs. Examples of personal fall protection systems include personal fall arrest systems, positioning systems, and travel restraint systems.

 Positioning system (work-positioning system) means a system of equipment and connectors that, when used with a body harness or body belt, allows an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall or windowsill, and work with both hands free. Positioning systems are also called “positioning system devices” and “work-positioning equipment.”

 Qualified describes a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

 Rope grab means a deceleration device that travels on a lifeline and automatically, by friction, engages the lifeline and locks so as to arrest the fall of an employee. A rope grab usually employs the principle of inertial locking, cam/lever locking, or both.

 Safety factor means the ratio of the design load and the ultimate strength of the material.

 Self-retracting lifeline/lanyard means 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 the employee. At the onset of a fall, the device automatically locks the drum and arrests the fall.

 Snap hook means a connector composed of a hook-shaped body with a normally closed gate or similar arrangement that may be manually opened to permit the hook to receive an object. When released, the snap hook automatically closes to retain the object. Opening a snap hook requires two separate actions.

 Snap hooks are generally one of two types:

1.Automatic-locking type (permitted) with a self-closing and self-locking gate that remains closed and locked until intentionally unlocked and opened for connection or disconnection; and

2.Nonlocking type (prohibited) with a self-closing gate that remains closed, but not locked, until intentionally opened for connection or disconnection

Travel restraint (tether) line means a rope or wire rope used to transfer forces from a body support to an anchorage or anchorage connector in a travel restraint system.

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

 Window cleaner’s belt means a positioning belt that consists of a waist belt, an integral terminal runner or strap, and belt terminals.

 Window cleaner’s belt anchor (window anchor) means specifically designed fall-preventing attachment points permanently affixed to a window frame or to a building part immediately adjacent to the window frame for direct attachment of the terminal portion of a window cleaner's belt.

 Window cleaner’s positioning system means a system that consists of a window cleaner's belt secured to window anchors.


In the second part of Colorado Safety Supply’s ongoing Fall Safety Protection 101 series, we will be covering a Connectors, Horizontal Lifelines, Anchorages, Travel Restraint and other topics and their standards definitions from OSHA and the corresponding section they are listed under. These are great for both seasoned pros and the new guy or gal on the job for a quick brush up on Fall Protection. For a more in depth look at the rules covered in this post click here.



29 CFR 1910.140(c)

Personal fall protection systems must meet the following requirements.



Connectors must be drop forged, pressed, or formed steel or made of equivalent materials. They must have a corrosion-resistant finish, and all surfaces and edges must be smooth to prevent damage to interfacing parts of the system.

 Lanyards and vertical lifelines

When vertical lifelines are used, each employee must be attached to a separate lifeline. Lanyards and vertical lifelines must have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds (lb).

 Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards that automatically limit free-fall distance to 2 feet (ft) or less must have components capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 3,000 lb applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position.

 A competent person or qualified person must inspect each knot in a lanyard or vertical lifeline to ensure that it meets the requirements before any employee uses the lanyard or lifeline.


Horizontal Lifelines

Each horizontal lifeline must be:

 Designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a qualified person; and

Part of a complete personal fall arrest system that maintains a safety factor of at least two.

D-rings, snap hooks, and carabiners

D-rings, snap hooks, and carabiners must be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 5,000 lb. They must be proof tested to a minimum tensile load of 3,600 lb without cracking, breaking, or incurring permanent deformation. The gate strength of snap hooks and carabiners must be capable of withstanding a minimum load of 3,600 lb without the gate separating from the nose of the snap hook or carabiner body by more than 0.125 inches (in.). Snap hooks and carabiners must be the automatic locking type that require at least two separate, consecutive movements to open.


Each horizontal lifeline must be:

 Directly to webbing, rope, or wire rope;

To each other;

To a D-ring to which another snap hook, carabiner, or connector is attached;

To a horizontal lifeline; or

To any object that is incompatibly shaped or dimensioned in relation to the snap hook or carabiner such that unintentional disengagement could occur when the connected object depresses the snap hook or carabiner gate, allowing the components to separate.


Anchorages used to attach to personal fall protection equipment must be independent of any anchorage used to suspend employees or platforms on which employees work.

 Anchorages used to attach to personal fall protection equipment on mobile work platforms on powered industrial trucks must be attached to an overhead member of the platform, at a point located above and near the center of the platform.

 Anchorages, except window cleaners’ belt anchors, must be:

 Capable of supporting at least 5,000 lb for each employee attached; or

Designed, installed, and used, under the supervision of a qualified person, as part of a complete personal fall protection system that maintains a safety factor of at least two.


Travel Restraint Lines

Travel restraint lines must be capable of sustaining a tensile load of at least 5,000 lb.

 Lifelines must not be made of natural fiber rope. Polypropylene rope must contain an ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitor.


Personal Fall Protection Systems

Personal fall protection systems and their components must be used exclusively for employee fall protection and not for any other purpose, such as hoisting equipment or materials.

 A personal fall protection system or its components subjected to impact loading must be removed from service immediately and not used again until a competent person inspects the system or components and determines that it is not damaged and safe for use for employee personal fall protection.

 Personal fall protection systems must be inspected before initial use during each work shift for mildew, wear, damage, and other deterioration, and defective components must be removed from service. Ropes, belts, lanyards, and harnesses

 Ropes, belts, lanyards, and harnesses

Ropes, belts, lanyards, and harnesses used for personal fall protection must be compatible with all connectors used and must be protected from being cut, abraded, melted, or otherwise damaged.

 Prompt rescue of each employee must be provided in the event of a fall.

 Personal fall protection systems must be worn with the attachment point of the body harness located in the center of the employee’s back near shoulder level. The attachment point may be located in the pre-sternal position if the free-fall distance is limited to 2 ft or less.



29 CFR 1910.140(d)

System performance criteria

Personal fall arrest systems must:

 Limit the maximum arresting force on the employee to 1,800 lb;

Bring the employee to a complete stop and limit the maximum deceleration distance the employee travels to 3.5 ft;

Have sufficient strength to withstand twice the potential impact energy of the employee free-falling a distance of 6 ft or the free-fall distance permitted by the system; and

Sustain the employee within the system/strap configuration without making contact with the employee’s neck and chin area

If the personal fall arrest system meets the criteria and protocols in Appendix D of this subpart and is being used by an employee having a combined body and tool weight of less than 310 lb, the system is considered to be in compliance with this section. If the system is used by an employee having a combined body and tool weight of 310 lb or more and the employer has appropriately modified the criteria and protocols in Appendix D, the system will be deemed to be in compliance. System use criteria

System use criteria:

For any horizontal lifeline that may become a vertical lifeline, the device used to connect to the horizontal lifeline must be capable of locking in both directions on the lifeline.

 Personal fall arrest systems must be rigged in such a manner that the employee cannot free-fall more than 6 ft or contact a lower level. A free fall may be more than 6 ft provided the employer can demonstrate the manufacturer designed the system to allow a free fall of more than 6 ft and tested the system to ensure that a maximum arresting force of 1,800 lb is not exceeded.

 Body belts. Body belts are not permitted as part of a personal fall arrest system.



29 CFR 1910.140(e)

All positioning systems, except window cleaners’ positioning systems, must be capable of withstanding, without failure, a drop test consisting of a 4-ft drop of a 250-lb weight.

 Lineman’s body belt and pole strap systems

Lineman’s body belt and pole strap systems must meet the following tests:

 A dielectric test of 819.7 volts (V), AC, per centimeter (25,000 V per ft) for 3 minutes without visible deterioration;

A leakage test of 98.4 V, AC, per centimeter (3,000 V per ft) with a leakage current of no more than 1 milliamp (mA); and

A flammability test in accordance with Table I-7.


Table I-7

 Test method and Criteria for passing test

  1. Vertically suspend a 19.7 in. length of strapping supporting a 220.5-lb weight; Any flames on the positioning strap must self-extinguish.
  2. Use a butane or propane burner with a 3-in. flame; Any flames on the positioning strap must self-extinguish. The positioning strap must continue to support the 220.5-lb mass.
  3. Direct the flame to an edge of the strapping at a distance of 1 in.;                          
  4. Remove the flame after 5 seconds; and                              
  5. Wait for any flames on the positioning strap to stop burning.                   





Tyler Reeves

Sales Manager

Matthew Creasey

Head Safety Consultant

Mike Wehrer

Mobile Safety Manager

Chelsey Asnicar

Customer Service Representative

Jen Brewster

and Ben McLagan