Health, Safety, Security and Environment

Fall Protection Systems Quiz Test Your Knowledge

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According to OSHA, fall protection is one of the most frequently violated OSHA standards. Falls also fall under what’s referred to as the “Fatal Four,” or the four most frequent causes of fatality in the construction industry. In fact, falls rank No.1, and they accounted for 38.7% of deaths in construction in 2016. In other words, fall protection is a key element of worker safety; providing sufficient fall protection saves lives.

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So, how’s your knowledge around the technical ins and outs of fall protection? Take our quiz to find out where you fall short.

Q.1) When working at heights and using a harness for fall protection, you should attach a self-retractable lifeline or an energy absorbing lanyard to which of the D-rings on the harness?

  1. Dorsal 
  2. Chest
  3. Side
  4. Any of the above


A dorsal (back) D-ring comes standard on all harnesses and is the designated attachment point in situations where an employee may fall a significant distance before the system is engaged. Anytime you are at risk of falling, you should connect your fall arrest system to your dorsal D-ring.

Other D-rings might also be available on harnesses, but they are not designated for fall protection. A chest D-ring can be used for ascending a ladder while connected to a vertical ladder climbing system. Shoulder D-rings can be used for retrieving workers in confined spaces. Side rings are appropriate for body positioning while working on a pole.

Q.2)When attached at shoulder height, which of the following systems will ensure a shorter fall for the worker:

  1. An energy absorbing lanyard
  2. A self-retracting lifeline (SRL) 
  3. Both would result in the same fall distance (Your Answer)
A self-retracting lifeline (SRL) will minimize the fall distance. The maximum free fall distance with an SRL is 2 feet (though, if it is attached at shoulder height, it should be 0) and the deceleration distance is a maximum 3 ½ feet.
With an energy absorbing lanyard attached at shoulder height, the minimum fall distance will be equal to the length of the lanyard (2, 3, 4 or 6 feet) plus the elongation of the energy absorber device (maximum 3 ½ feet).
These distances are part of the clearance formula, so the longer a fall, the higher clearance you’ll need. For this reason, people working at heights less than 17 ½ feet should use a self-retractable lifeline, while those working at elevations higher than this can use either a lanyard or lifeline.

Q.3) Where:
C is the clearance required,
L is the length of the energy-absorbing lanyard,
E is the elongation of the energy absorber,
H is the height of the worker, and
S is the safety factor,
What is the formula for calculating the clearance for a fall protection system with an energy-absorbing lanyard?

  1. C=L+E+H-S
  2. C=L-E+H+S
  3. C=L+E+H+S 
  4. None of the above


The correct formula is C=L+E+H+S. The minimum clearance is equal to the sum of the length (L) of the energy absorber, the extension (E) of the energy absorber, the height (S) of the employee, and the safety factor (S).
For a 5 ½-foot tall employee using a 6-foot energy absorbing lanyard, the clearance is 18 feet (6 + 3 ½ + 5 1/2 + 3 feet). We always incorporate a 3-foot safety margin to account for any miscalculation, taller workers, or an improperly fitted harness.

Q.4) Can I install a self-retracting lifeline (SRL) sideways on the floor or roof?

  1. Yes, always
  2. No, never
  3. Yes, but only if you are working very high and you can’t strike the ground
  4. Yes, but only if you use a leading edge SRL 
Most self-retractable lifelines are designed to be attached above the employee, limiting the fall to a maximum of 24 inches. For this reason, they do not incorporate an energy absorber.
Attaching such a lifeline at foot level will result in a long fall and a brutal stop. The length that is played out (think the distance from the floor to your D-ring) will remain played out, so when you step over the edge, you will fall that far at minimum [this distance]. Since most SRLs are not designed to be installed on a side, it will take even longer for them to arrest your fall.
This is where leading edge SRLs enter the scene. These SRLs have been designed to be installed on the side and incorporate an energy absorber to mitigate the impact transmitted to your body when falling a longer distance.

Q.5) According to OSHA, what is the maximum free fall distance for a worker? (Where free fall distance is understood to be the difference between the height from which the fall has taken place until the fall protection system engages and starts to decelerate the fall).

  1.  2 feet
  2. 4 feet
  3. 6 feet 
  4. 8 feet
The maximum distance a worker can fall before a fall protection system engages and starts to decelerate is 6 feet. This ensures that the maximum fall arresting force is kept below 1,800 pounds of force.

Q.6) Guardrails have been the preferred and recommended means of fall protection for a long time. Under OSHA regulations, what is the recommended height for the top rail of a guardrail?

  1. 36-38 inches
  2. 39-45 inches 
  3. 46-52 inches
  4. It depends on the height of the workers
OSHA’s 1926.502(b)(1) stipulates that the top edge of top rails or equivalent guardrail system members shall be 42 inches (plus or minus 3 inches) above the working/walking level. This offers a range of 39 to 45 inches for the top of the rail.

Q.7) Identify all “passive” fall protection systems from the list below:

  1. Guardrails
  2.  Fall arrest systems
  3.  Fall restraint systems
  4. Safety nets
  5. 1 & 4 
  6. 2 & 4
Fall protection systems can be divided in two categories: active and passive. Passive fall protection is stationary and requires no interaction for them to work. Guardrails and safety nets are the most common passive fall protection systems.

Q.8)  When should an employer train a worker in fall protection?

  1. Initially, before assigning the worker to work at heights
  2. If the worker does not recognize fall hazards after initial training is provided
  3. When changes in the workplace render previous training obsolete
  4. When fall protection equipment or systems have changed
  5. All of the above 
  6. Never – the employee is the one who has to ensure they have the appropriate training
According to 29 CFR 1929.503 (c), an employer should ensure that the worker receives training before working at heights, when the employee does not recognize fall hazards, when changes in the workplace make their prior training obsolete, or when fall protection equipment or systems have changed.

Q.9)  A worker working by the edge of an excavation, pit, or shaft that is more than __ feet deep should be protected from falling by guardrails, fences, barricades, or covers.

  1. 2 feet
  2. 4 feet
  3. 6 feet 
  4. 8 feet
  5. 10 feet
According to CFR 1926.501 (b) (7) – Excavations, the employee has to be protected from a fall if the depth of the excavation, pit, or shaft exceeds 6 feet.

Q.10) ANSI/ASSE A10.32 was revised in 2012. Based on this revision, which one of these events will not automatically require an employer to remove fall protection equipment from use?

  1.  The equipment is involved in a fall
  2. The equipment has been in use for 5 years 
  3. The equipment does not pass an inspection as per the manufacturer’s criteria
  4. At the expiration date indicated on the equipment by the manufacturer
Until 2012, employers were required to retire any equipment from service once it was five years old, even if it was in good functioning order and would have passed an inspection based on the manufacturer’s recommended criteria.
As of 2012, this expiration rule has been abolished; all other criteria for removing equipment from service remain in place.

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