ASP Exam – Fall Protection 2019-05-09T14:45:45+00:00

ASP Exam Study Guide

Fall Protection

ASP Exam Expectations

The ASP Exam will contain multiple questions related to slips, trips, and fall protection. Expect at least a couple of general fall protection and hazard identification questions on the ASP Exam. The ASP exam may also contain math questions on fall protection distances, including the amount of space required to safely arrest a fall given certain fall protection components.

Slips, Trips, and Falls Overview

Slips, trips, and falls are a leading cause of workplace injuries. To prevent injuries from falls, OSHA requires employers to:

  • Establish a written fall protection plan as part of its overall health and safety plan. This plan must include company standards that mandate when and how fall protection is to be used in the workplace.
  • The company should follow applicable OSHA fall protection standards when an employee working in a general industry capacity is 4 feet above a lower level or when an employee working in a construction capacity is 6 feet above a lower level.
  • Companies must provide the correct fall protection equipment for each situation an employee will encounter in the workplace that requires the use of fall protection and train employees how and when they will use fall protection.
  • Fall protection equipment should be inspected daily prior to use and repaired or replaced routinely when defects are found. Some specific pieces of equipment, such as self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) require periodic (often annual) inspections and certifications by competent persons such as a manufacturer or certified technician.
  • Supervisors are expected to enforce fall protection requirements among the workforce.

Fall protection systems can limit or prevent falls in the workplace if used in an appropriate manner. A fall protection system may include passive an d active fall protection methods including:

Passive Fall Protection Methods

  • Guardrails and other railings (Guardrails should be 42” high and include a midrail an d 4” toe board)
  • Hole covers (All holes greater than 18” in width and 30” or taller must be covered in walls and floors)
  • Safety nets
  • Ladder cages
  • Warning devices, barriers, and flags

Active Fall Protection Methods

  • Fall arrest systems and it’s components, including:
    • Full body harnesses
    • Lifelines
    • Rope grab devices
    • Energy absorbing lanyards
    • Self-retracting lifelines
    • Snaphooks and carabiners
    • Anchor points certified for 5000 lbs / person or a safety factor of two
    • Falls limited to 6 feet and arresting force of 1800 lbs.
  • Fall restraint systems, often include similar components but may feature:
    • Static lanyards, often shorter lengths
    • Anchor points certified for 1,000 lbs / person or 2x foreseeable force
    • Falls not possible due to set up of restraint system
  • Work positioning systems, including
    • Body belts
    • Static Lanyards, sometimes adjustable lengths
    • Climbing devices or descent controllers
    • Anchor points certified for 3,000 lbs / person or 2x foreseeable force
    • Falls limited to 2 feet


Trips are usually caused by one of the following factors:

  • Objects protruding from a walking surface
  • Uneven walking surfaces, such as uneven concrete, deteriorating flooring, loose carpeting or folded rugs, etc.
  • Poor housekeeping such as materials or equipment left in walkways
  • Objects that protrude into a walkway
  • Lack of designated walkways, forcing personnel to “find their own way”.

To prevent trips in the workplace, management and supervisors should ensure that standard operating procedures address typical jobsite housekeeping and necessary clean up. Tools should be promptly put away when not in use and trash or packing materials should be properly disposed of. Ensure that flooring changes are level and well defined and avoid one or two step surface elevation changes when possible (likely resolved in the job design phase.) If elevation changes are unavoidable, warnings should be posted in workplaces drawing attention to their presence. Damaged working and walking surfaces should be repaired quickly after damage occurs. If temporary extension cords must be run through a walkway, consider taping the cord down or using a  cord protector.


A slip occurs when one or both feet slide across a surface, causing a person to become temporarily unstable or fall. Slips can cause muscular injuries even if a person remains on their feet, although a fall can certainly worsen the severity of a slip. Slips are often caused by:

  • Slick surfaces due to the surfaces’ finish or the presence of a contaminant such as mud, moisture, grease, or oil
  • Slopes in the surface that allow a reduction in traction
  • Smooth soled or worn shoes, shoe sole materials, etc.

Slipping hazards can be reduced through the use of several methods:

  • Ensure adequate housekeeping takes place and that oil, liquids, greases, snow, etc. Is removed from walkways quickly and that signage is present until they are removed.
  • When wet processes take place in workplaces such as manufacturing facilities

Stair Safety

Stairs are a significant slip, trip and fall hazard and are the most common device used to move people from one level to another. Inadequately designed stairs can contribute to workplace injuries with often dire consequences for injured workers. To protect workers, stairs should be designed with the following in mind:

  • Slopes on stairs should be between 30 and 35 degrees, although regulations allow them to fall between 20 and 50 degrees.
  • Stairs should have uniform dimensions for all steps.
  • Stair treads should be slip resistant.
  • Visibility on stairs is critical. Enough light should be present to easily see the steps. Glare should be avoided.
  • Stairs must be able to carry their anticipated load.
  • Stairs should generally be at least 44 inches wide, although buildings with less than 50 occupants may have stairs that are only 36 inches wide.
  • Handrails should be present.
  • The stairs and landing areas should be free of distractions and kept clear.

Ladder Safety

There are many types of ladders, and ladders are classified by their materials of construction, load capacity, design, and intended use. The three most common ladder classes are:

  • Type I – 200 pound load limit
  • Type II – 225 pound load limit
  • Type III – 250 pound load limit

Ladders can be portable, such as extension or A-frame ladders, or fixed in place. Job made ladders are often made on construction locations. Ladders can tip over either sideways or backwards. If not properly secures, the base of a ladder can slip out. Ensuring treads and outriggers are deployed as necessary and tying off the top of the ladder can limit these events. The rungs and feet of ladders should be slip resistant, and ladder users should wear slip resistant shoes with a heel.

The ladder selected should be constructed of suitable materials for the job at hand. Metal ladders can conduct electricity and may not be used for any work around electrical equipment. Fiberglass ladders are now the most common type in use for these situations, although wood may also be used.

Properly positioning a ladder can also reduce ladder slippage. Ladders should be erected at a 75 degree angle. To accomplish this, place the base of the ladder one foot away from a structure (or the fall line from the eave) for each four feet of ladder height. The top of the ladder should extend 3 feet past the working surface to provide a handhold when getting on or off the ladder.

Ladders should be inspected before each use for cracks, wear, breaks, bends, or other damage. Remove defective ladders from service until they can be repaired or replaced.


There are two types of tubular scaffolds: frame and tube. Both are similar in that they are modular systems erected on site in the needed configuration.

Suspended scaffolds include hanging scaffolds with sophisticated anchoring systems that can support large amounts of weight and move mechanically up and down a building. Single point suspension scaffolds are less sophisticated in that they include a single point of suspension supporting a boatswain’s chair.

Several hazard controls should be accounted for while working with scaffolds:

  • Planking should be properly secured and of the appropriate type. Wood planking must be constructed only of scaffold grade wood. Cleats should lock planks in place where necessary.
  • Scaffolds should be rated for the appropriate loads. Light, medium, and heavy duty scaffolds are rated for 25, 50 and 75 pounds per square foot respectively.
  • Tipping can be prevented by ensuring loads are appropriately distributed, feet have a solid, level base, and that the scaffold is tied to the adjacent structure where appropriate.
  • Scaffold erectors should be properly trained in assembly, testing, inspection, and use. Users should be trained in scaffold awareness and be able to identify hazards.
  • Fall protection measures as described above are applicable to scaffolds.


Additional Resources for ASP Exam Preparation

Check out the hyperlinks below for additional materials relevant to fall protection questions on the ASP & CSP Exams:

OSHA’s Fall Protection Home Page

National Association of Home Builder’s Fall Protection Toolkit