Risk Management Services

A Unit of the Business Affairs Division

Fall Prevention/Protection


Each year, falls represent one of the primary causes of workplace fatalities and injuries.  In construction, falls are consistently the leading cause of death, accounting for approximately 25% of all construction fatalities.  Roofs, scaffolds and ladders, are the most common fall locations and account for almost 1/2 of all fall fatalities. 

When is Fall Protection Required?

Depending in the type of work, the legal requirement for fall protection varies – it is 4 feet in general industry (29 CFR 1910.23); 6 feet in construction (29 CFR 1926.501); 10 feet when on scaffolds (29 CFR 1026.451), and 15 or 30 feet for steel erection (29 CFR 1926.760).  As a general rule - a fall hazard exists anytime a worker is at a height greater than 4 feet above a lower level. 

What can be done to prevent/provide protection from falls?

The preferred hierarchy for fall prevention/protection is:

  • (BEST) Eliminate the hazard by work design and planning so workers don’t have to work at heights.
  • (BETTER)  Provide passive protection to isolate workers from fall hazard (e.g., guardrails, guarding floor/wall openings or safety nets).
  • (GOOD)  Provide active protection so workers can guard themselves from fall hazard through appropriate work equipment and practices (e.g., proper ladder/scaffold/lift selection, construction, maintenance and use; travel restriction systems or fall restraint; warning line systems, or safety monitoring systems)
  • (LAST RESORT) Use personal fall arrest systems to arrest falls and minimize injury.

In most cases, one must consult the appropriate OSHA regulations/ANSI standards/equipment manuals, labels and warning, with regard to the details on the particular hazard and control.

I Have a Fall Protection Concern Who Can I Contact?

Please contact Risk Management Services (621-1790, risk@email.arizona.edu) for more information, or visit the useful links to the right.