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Fall Protection and Prevention

In the construction industry in the U.S., falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities.  Each year between 150 and 200 workers die, and more than 100,000 are injured as a result of falls at construction sites.  33% of all construction fatalities are fall related. Falls from 11 feet or more result in an 85% death rate.

Whenever potential fall hazards are recognized, employers and employees must do the following:

  • Select fall protection systems appropriate for the work and/or situation;
  • Train workers in proper selection, use, inspection, maintenance and storage of all fall protection/prevention devices and systems to be utilized;
  • Use proper construction and installation of safety systems;
  • Supervise employees properly; and
  • Use safe work procedures.



Same Level Falls / Slips and Trips

Falls from Heights – Lifts, Scaffolds & Ladders, and Structural

Steel and Decking


Fall-ClimbThe trigger height is that level at which fall protection/prevention is required.  Federal standards require fall protection at 6 feet, while individual states impose a variety of trigger heights according to the task that is being performed.


  • Identify specific work that may expose workers to fall hazards
  • Identify what workers, trades may be exposed



  • Distance
  • Impact Surface
  • Body Position
  • Objects / Structures Impacted
  • Victim’s Age and Weight


  • Guardrails
  • Safety Nets
  • Personal Fall Protection Systems
  • Limited Access Zones


Defined as a barrier erected to prevent workers from falling to lower levels, a guardrail system must be used:

  • On unprotected sides or edges of a ramp or runway.
  • On unprotected sides or edges of holes.
  • To restrict access to hoist areas when not used for hoisting.
  • No openings can be more than 19” apart.
  • When holes are used to pass materials, no more than two sides of the guardrail may be removed at a time.
  • Never use a guardrail as a place to tie off!
  • Guardrails must be inspected as often as needed

Guardrails must meet the following criteria:

  • Must resist a 200 lb. force within 2” of the top edge in an outward or downward direction at any location along the top rail.
  • Midrails must resist a 150 lb. force along any point of the rail.
  • Toeboards must resist a 50 lb. force along any point.
  • Guardrails may be constructed of wood, pipe, roping or wire.
  • Guardrails may never be used as anchor points for Personal Fall Arrest Systems.


Safety net systems are used to catch people or tools, material or equipment.  Debris nets are not the same thing.  Debris nets are used for catching equipment only, not for catching people, and are not fall protection equipment.

Safety nets must be installed as close as practical under the surface where employees are working.  Note:  Safety nets must never be more than 30 feet below the working surface.

Safety Net Requirements:

  • The safety net must be installed so that if something falls into the net, it will not touch structures or surfaces below.
  • The fall area between the working surface and the net must be free of obstructions.
  • Tools, scrap, or equipment that fall into a net must be removed as soon as possible,
  • Mesh openings cannot be larger than 36 square inches, or longer than 6” on any side.
  • The border rope of a safety net must have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 lbs.
  • Safety nets must be inspected: weekly for wear, damage and other deterioration, and after any use that could affect the net

Safety nets must be drop-tested, on site:

  • before  use
  • after any major repair to the system
  • every six months if left in one place for extended periods of time.

Drop-test is done by by dropping a 400 lb. sandbag, 28” to 32” in diameter, into the center of the net.


Fall-SlingA PFAS is a system used to protect an employee in a fall from a working level.

It consists of:

  • An anchorage,
  • Connectors,
  • A body belt or body harness
  • And may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or suitable combinations of these.

Since January 1, 1998 the use of body belts for fall arrest has been prohibited!

  • Employers must plan the rescue of the worker.
  • Damaged equipment may not be used. 
  • Knots in tethers and lanyards decrease line  strength by 50%.
  • Free fall distance on lanyards is limited to 6’. This includes the sum of the fall distance and the deceleration distance.
  • Deceleration distance must not exceed 3.5’.
  • Anchorage points, lines, lanyards, and connectors must be able to withstand a force of 5,000 per worker.
  • Equipment may not be modified in any way
  • Equipment must be inspected before and after each use.
  • Equipment must be taken out of service if any defects are found.


  • B  is for BODY HARNESS
  • D  is for DEVICES – such as horizontal lifelines, hardware, lanyards, etc.

Fall Protection Safety Training:

fall-protection-tileFall Protection - OSHA Safety Training: Falls are the second leading cause of death each year in the United States (after traffic accidents)! Over 10,000 people are killed every year as a result of falls...and 200,000 to 300,000 people are disabled. Eight-five percent of all falls that occur on the job result in "lost work time".

Our training products on "Fall Protection" provide the information employees need to work safely when they are "off the ground", and assist in satisfying the major training requirements in the OSHA Standard on Fall Protection. Topics covered in these products include:

  • The seriousness of fall hazards.
  • Types of environments where falls may occur.
  • The "Fall Protection Plan".
  • Concentrating and keeping a clear head.
  • The importance of housekeeping in preventing falls.
  • Measures that can be taken to protect against falls.
  • Protective equipment.
  • and more.

Get a Quote for a Class:
Fall Protection Live Instruction Training Courses at YOUR Location

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