OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
Bookmark this page

Part 9 Fall Protection

Section 158 Leading edge fall protection system

Leading edge fall protection – fabric or netting panels


Some types of roofs are constructed using metal rolls, decking panels, or some other methods that involve “leading edges”. A leading edge is the edge of a floor, roof, or formwork for a floor or deck or other walking or working surface that changes location as additional sections are placed, formed or built. A leading edge is dangerous even if workers are not actively adding materials. Workers must be protected if they are accessing those areas.

Falls may happen at unprotected edges of the metal decking, from openings in the deck, from the skeleton structure, and from access equipment such as ladders and scaffolds. Falls may occur during any of the operations connected with unloading, deck laying or fastening and when material, tools and equipment are being moved on to or off of a deck already installed. Workers should not approach the leading edge unless they are pushing a sheet of decking material in front of them.

Sides and edges are considered “unprotected” when there is no wall or guardrail system at least 920 millimetres (36 inches) high (as required by section 315 for a guardrail). This does not apply to entrances, exits and points of access.

Fabric or netting panels

A relatively new approach to providing fall protection at a leading edge is the use of fabric or netting panels specifically designed for this purpose. At present, these panels usually cover a roof’s secondary open steel structural members and offer leading edge fall protection while workers apply insulation and other roof coverings.

These panels are not safety nets and the requirements for safety nets do not apply to them.

If an employer wishes to use a leading edge fall protection consisting of fabric or netting panels, all of the following conditions must be met:

(a) the system can only be used to provide leading edge fall protection. The system cannot be used to provide fall protection for workers at heights above the plane or level in which the system is being installed;

(b) the system must be used and installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications, respecting any limitations that the manufacturer may impose on the system during installation and use;

(c) a copy of the manufacturer’s specifications for the system must be available to workers at the work site at which the system is being used;

(d) the fabric or netting product must be (i) drop-tested at the work site as described in 29 CFR Section 1926.502 (C)(4)

(i) published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) i.e. a 182 kg mass (400 lbs) dropped from a height of 107 cm (42 in) onto the fabric or netting, or
(ii) certified as safe for use by a professional engineer; and

(e) all workers using the system must be trained in its use and limitations.