Fall Prevention and 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.