When working in any environment that leaves an employee open to falls, an employer cannot have enough fall protection equipment in use. A good addition to your fall protection system would be to include safety nets. As with all safety equipment, it is important to know the rules and regulations regarding when to use a safety net and how it should be set up.
According to OSHA, here are a few safety tips regarding the use of safety nets. (For the complete list of OHSA requirements click here.)
- Safety nets must be installed as close as practicable under the walking/working surface on which employees are working but never installed more than 30 feet below that level.
- Defective nets shall not be used and defective components must be removed from service.
- Safety nets should be inspected at least once a week for wear, damage and other deterioration and any occurrence which could affect the integrity of the system.
- The maximum size of each safety net mesh opening shall not exceed 36 square inches nor be longer than 6 inches on any side, and the openings, measured center-to-center, of mesh ropes or webbing, shall not exceed 6 inches.
- Safety nets shall be installed with sufficient clearance underneath to prevent contact with the surface or structure below.
- Safety nets shall be capable of absorbing an impact force of a drop test consisting of a 400-pound bag of sand 30 inches in diameter dropped from the highest walking/working surface at which workers are exposed, but not from less than 42 inches above that level.