How to Protect Workers from Falls

There are a variety of fall protection solutions for employers including conventional means (such as guardrail systems, safety net systems, and personal fall protection systems), implementing safe work practices, and providing appropriate training. In addition, the use of warning lines, designated areas, control zones, and similar systems are permitted by OSHA in specific work environments. These systems provide fall protection by limiting the number of workers exposed to hazardous working conditions.

Preparing for fall hazards before the actual work begins allows employers to effectively manage fall hazards and focus on preventive efforts. This includes conducting a fall hazard assessment and developing a comprehensive fall protection plan. If a personal fall protection system is used, it's essential to identify attachment points and make sure employees know how to properly use and inspect the equipment.

Reference Materials

  • 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 [284 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA QuickCard. Provides fall protection hazard prevention methods.
  • Aerial Lift Fall Protection -- Over Water in Shipyards [879 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. (2011, September).
  • Fall Protection Safety Tips Sheets for Employers and Employees [26 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. 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. OSHA Publication 3124-12R, (2003). Also available as a 278 KB PDF, 15 pages. Informational booklet explaining OSHA requirements as they apply to stairways and ladders, as well as glossary of commonly used terms.
  • Care of Safety Belts, Harnesses, and Lanyards. Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), (1999, May 10). 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.
  • OSHA and Lamar Bridgeport Alliance Working to Improve Safety and Health of the Outdoor Advertising Industry's Employees. OSHA Region 1 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 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.
  • For additional information on general health and safety concerns, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).