OSHA Updates for Fall Protection:
In 2017, OSHA updated and renumbered the fall protection standards section 1910.23 for walking working surfaces to make them more consistent with Section 1926.502 fall protection for construction. Several of the section numbers changed—for your reference, the previous section numbers are indicated in brackets such as [1910.23(a)(4)]. The two new sections addressing fall protection for walking working surfaces are 1910.28 and 1910.29. Below are the specific OSHA standards and corresponding IBC codes for roof hatch safety railings.
About IBC and OSHA
International Building Code (IBC) establishes minimum requirements for building systems. States and cities adopt IBC codes at different rates, and may not be utilizing the 2024 version at this time.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) helps to assure safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards. Inspectors enforce the current national standard, except in cases where a state has a more stringent OSHA code.
Standards For Fall Protection Requirements On Rooftop Openings
Note: OSHA is providing more flexibility to the employer to protect workers from falls by choosing from a range of accepted fall protection systems.
Standards for Height and Midrail of Guards
Note: Since IBC requires at least a 42” high guard rail , a railing which is 42-45” high will comply with both.
Note: IBC standards require all openings in the railing to be 21” or less. Railing systems with adjustable height midrails provide more flexibility to meet both of these standards.
Standards for Load-Bearing of Railing
Note: OSHA and IBC standards are the same for the top rail, however OSHA standards for the intermediate rail is 150 lbs, while IBC is only 50 lbs.
Standards for Railing Construction
Note: The prior OSHA standard required a nominal size of 1-1/2” diameter for guards, so this is a significant change.
Standards for Gates
OSHA 1910.29(b)(13) [1910.23(a)(2)]
When guardrail systems are used around holes that serve as points of access (such as ladderways), the guardrail system
opening: have a self-closing gate (13)(i) that slides or swings away from the hole, and is equipped with a top rail and midrail or equivalent intermediate member that meets the requirements in paragraph (b) of this section; or is offset to prevent an employee from walking or falling into the hole (13)(ii).
Note: This section helps clarify the requirement of self-closing gates over chains to protect the opening. Chains are a common option out in industry that will require a retrofit self closing gate to comply with OSHA where applicable.
For information on the ACPG Series of roof hatches and railings or to view submittals, see our roof accessories section.
This document is a guideline only, as interpretation of building codes may vary. Consult your local AHJ for appropriate standards in your area.