How to Protect Workers from Falls
There are a number of ways employers can protect workers from falls, including through the use of conventional means such as guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall protection systems, the adoption of safe work practices, and the provision of appropriate training.
The use of warning lines, designated areas, control zones and similar systems are permitted by OSHA in some situations and can provide protection by limiting the number of workers exposed.
Whether conducting a hazard assessment or developing a comprehensive fall protection plan, thinking about fall hazards before the work begins will help the employer to manage fall hazards and focus attention on prevention efforts.
If personal fall protection systems are used, particular attention should be given to identifying attachment points and to ensuring that employees know how to properly use and inspect the equipment. The following references aid in recognizing and evaluating fall protection hazards in the workplace.
- NEW Prevention Videos (v-Tools): Construction Hazards. OSHA, (2011). Intended to assist those in the industry to identify, reduce, and eliminate construction-related hazards. Most of the videos are 2 to 4 minutes long, presented in clear, easily accessible vocabulary, and show common construction worksite activities. There are several related to Falls in Construction, including Floor Openings, Fixed Scaffolds, Bridge Decking, Reroofing and Leading Edge Work.
- Fall Protection in General Industry (PDF*). OSHA QuickCard 3257-12-10R, (2010, December). Provides fall protection hazard prevention methods.
- Aerial Lift Fall Protection -- Over Water in Shipyards (PDF*). OSHA QuickCard 3452-09-11N, (2011, September).
- Fall Protection Safety Tips Sheets for Employers and Employees. OSHA and the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) Alliance. Two tip sheets, one for employers and one for workers, covering hazards and prevention methods.
- Stairways and Ladders: A Guide to OSHA Rules (PDF). OSHA Publication 3124-12R, (2003). Informational booklet explaining OSHA requirements as they apply to stairways and ladders, as well as glossary of commonly used terms.
- OSHA and Lamar Bridgeport Alliance Working to Improve Safety and Health of the Outdoor Advertising Industry's Employees. OSHA Region I Success Stories, (2004, November 30). Describes gains made and lives saved by the alliance, through pooling knowledge and resources on fall protection and safety measures.
- Fall Protection - Roofing. Washington State Video, (2013).
- Fall Protection - Trusses. Washington State Video, (2013).
- Fall Protection Publications. Oregon OSHA. Includes fall protection publications for the construction industry, for setting and bracing wood trusses and rafters, for setting floor joists, sheathing/decking, and constructing exterior walls, options for specialty contractors, temporary elevated work platforms, and walking working surfaces.
- Safety Belts, Harnesses, and Lanyards. Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). Tip sheet for cleaning and caring for safety belts/harnesses/lanyards.
- NIOSH Issues Nationwide Alert on Dangers of Tree Trimming. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 93-122, (1992, December 7). Explanation of cause for, and coverage of, NIOSH Alert on tree trimming.
- Preventing Falls and Electrocutions During Tree Trimming. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 92-106, (1992, August). NIOSH Alert considering case studies of electrocutions and fatal falls of tree trimmers, and discussion of hazard prevention methods.
- Preventing Worker Deaths and Injuries from Falls Through Skylights and Roof Openings. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-100, (1989, December). Describes eight deaths resulting from falls that occurred during work around these openings.
- For additional information, see OSHA's Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Safety and Health Topics Page.