OSHA requires employers to protect workers from falls. Falls can cause death and very serious injuries –and can be prevented. OSHA’s fall protection requirements are as follows: for general industry, fall protection must be used while working at heights of four or more feet. In maritime, specifically ship repair, fall protection is required at five feet or greater on vessels, and longshoring operations generally require fall protection at eight feet or greater. Fall protection can be accomplished through the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, or similar systems.
For construction operations, fall protection generally must be used at heights of six feet or greater. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Fall protection can be accomplished through the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. Certain worksite activities and/or locations may allow other methods (including, but not limited to positioning device systems, warning line systems, and controlled access zones) to be used.
Employers must take all steps necessary to protect employees from falls. Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.
For further information on OSHA’s requirements for protecting workers from falls, please see OSHA’s Fall Prevention Web page.