Falls are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the construction industry. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 401 out of 991 construction fatalities in 2019 resulted from workers falling to lower levels.
A debris netting system – also known as a scaffold netting or construction safety netting system – is a critical element of fall protection that can help save the lives of workers and pedestrians.
OSHA Requirements and Regulations
OSHA’s debris netting requirements mandate that employers provide safety nets for work surfaces more than 25 feet above the ground or water surface. This requirement further specifies that netting is essential when using ladders, scaffolds, catch platforms, safety lines, temporary floors or safety belts would be impractical.
Debris nets must meet the following standards to comply with OSHA regulations:
- All netting must extend 8 feet past the edge of the work surface.
- Nets must provide enough clearance to prevent contact with surfaces below upon impact.
- Employers must hang nets 25 feet or higher below the workplace.
- The maximum mesh size is 6 by 6 inches per opening.
- All mesh crossings should be secure to prevent openings from stretching and growing weaker.
- All nets should have a label of proof test.
- All new nets must be manufacturer-tested to withstand a minimum of 17,500 pounds of impact resistance.
- Bridge construction sites only need one level of netting.
Benefits of Debris Containment Nets
One common misconception about safety equipment and training is that it is unnecessary. This idea is entirely false – safety is an investment worth more than any dollar amount.
Installing an OSHA-compliant debris netting system is a step toward improving your operation. Consider these benefits companies may experience.
- Fewer accidents: Safety catch netting ensures that if one of your workers falls from a height, something is there to catch them. And this benefits more than your workers – debris netting also protects pedestrians from falling objects like equipment or building materials.
- Improved worker performance: Feeling safe on the job is vital, especially in a risky industry like construction. Employers who take their workers’ health seriously will experience higher productivity rates, increased employee retention and improved team morale.
- Stable insurance rates: Fewer accidents mean fewer spikes in insurance rates. By keeping your employees safe, you’re also working to keep your company’s costs low.
- Boosted reputation: Debris netting is a visible sign you care about your employees’ well-being. Stakeholders and clients are more likely to trust your company if they see the steps you’ve taken to keep your team and the public healthy and safe.
OSHA Standards and Compliance
OSHA states that workplaces that expose employees to falling objects must implement one of the following safety measures:
- Erect guardrail systems, toeboards or screens to block objects from falling from higher levels.
- Erect a canopy structure and keep risky objects far enough from the edge that they wouldn’t fall if someone inadvertently misplaced them.
- Block off the area where objects could fall and prohibit employees from entering. Additionally, keep all potential falling objects far enough from the edge that they would not fall if someone accidentally moved them.
In any case, employers must provide all employees with hard hats and appropriate personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of injury.
Common ANSI/ASSP Standards
The American Society for Safety Professionals – formerly the American Society for Safety Engineers – develops voluntary consensus standards for products, processes, personnel, services and systems in the United States. The American National Standards Institute oversees the development and implementation of those standards.
Here are some standards construction employers should pay particular attention to.
- ANSI/ASSP A10.11-2010 (R2016): This standard dictates the regulations for selection, installation, testing and use of personnel nets in the construction industry, in addition to repair and demolition operations.
- ANSI/ASSP A10.37-2016: This standard specifically focuses on requirements for debris nets, and lays out the minimum guidelines for design, selection, installation, testing and use of netting systems. ANSI A10.37 also states mesh opening size should be dependent on the net’s intended application, and that any net that does not conform to the standard bears a permanent tag identifying it as non-compliant.
You can buy a copy of either of these standards on ASSP’s website.
Scaffolding Equipment From IE
At IE, we’re proud to partner with some of the country’s top safety equipment manufacturers. We follow regulations to the letter to ensure the safest working conditions possible for your site.
Some of our scaffolding safety products include the following.
- Modular guardrail panel systems: Our adjustable guardrail panels are ideal for passive fall protection systems. They attach quickly and easily to multiple mountings, allowing your team to work near a structure’s edge without fear. Plus, after work has ended for the day, our guardrails keep unauthorized personnel from trespassing on your site.
- Personnel safety netting and debris containment: Easy to install and maintain, our netting systems are effective for fall protection, debris containment or both. Depending on your needs, these nets can either cantilever or span site openings.
- Protective canopies: In many metropolitan settings, building owners need to erect protective canopies before construction can begin. Our canopies consist of concrete jersey barrier walls and meet approved standards for use in the city of Chicago.
- Debris chutes: Our debris chutes help you keep your job site tidier, which can boost productivity levels, decrease the risk of injury from falling debris and help to ensure compliance with OSHA requirements. Plus, they save time by eliminating the need to manually carry debris to a dumping site.
- Stair towers: Our modular scaffold stair systems make scaffolding easier and safer to navigate, whether it’s a complex multilevel structure or a single-level platform. Plus, they provide a fast means of evacuation in the case of emergencies.
- Training services: OSHA requires all workers who use scaffolding to obtain certification from their employers. At IE, we offer scaffold safety training programs that cover all general scaffolding requirements in addition to tailored training for individual job sites.
Choose IE for OSHA-Compliant Debris Netting
IE is your one-stop shop for construction site safety services and equipment. We’re here for you at every stage of the process, from installation to project completion.
When you schedule a consultation with IE, one of our sales representatives will visit your site in person to ensure you get everything you need for your operation’s success. If you experience an emergency related to one of our products, we’re available 24/7 to help you out.
Contact us online for a free estimate, or call us at 800-675-3231 to learn more about how we can help you reach your safety goals.