- Safety and Health Topics
- Fall Protection
Construction Standards and Resources
In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 991 construction workers died on the job, with 38.7 percent of those fatalities resulting from falls. [More...]
Fall protection is addressed in OSHA's standards for the construction industry. This section highlights some of the OSHA standards, Federal Registers notices (rules and proposed rules), preambles to final rules (background to final rules), directives (instruction to OSHA staff), letters of interpretation (official letters of interpretation of the standards), example cases, and national consensus standards related to fall protection.
Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)
- 1926.451, General requirements (Scaffolding) [related topic page]
- 1926.452, Additional requirements applicable to specific types of scaffolds
- 1926.454, Training requirements (Scaffolding)
- 1926.501, Duty to have fall protection
- 1926.502, Fall protection systems criteria and practices
- 1926.503, Training requirements (Fall protection)
- 1926.760, Steel erection (Fall protection)
- 1926.800, Underground construction
- 1926.1051, General requirements (Stairways and ladders)
- 1926.1052, Stairways
- 1926.1053, Ladders
- 1926.1060, Training requirements (Stairways and ladders)
- 1926.1423, Cranes and derricks in construction (Fall protection)
Most Frequently Cited Standards
Federal Register Notices
- Compliance Directive for Fall Protection in Residential Construction. Notice 75:80315, (December 22, 2010).
- Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems). Proposed Rules 75:28861-29153, (May 24, 2010).
- Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment. Final Rules 72:64341-64430, (November 15, 2007). OSHA issued a final rule in 2007 requiring employers to pay for required PPE, with limited exceptions.
- Safety Standards for Steel Erection. Final Rules 66:5317-5325, (January 18, 2001). Contains requirements for hoisting and rigging, structural steel assembly, beam and column connections, joist erection, systems-engineered metal building erection, fall protection, and training.
- Safety Standards for Fall Protection in the Construction Industry. Advanced Notice of Proposed Rules 64:38077-38086, (July 14, 1999). OSHA addressed ten issues, most of which have been raised by interested parties who believe that alternatives to some of the existing fall protection rule's provisions should be permitted. They generally recommend that OSHA allow work practices rather than personal fall arrest systems and guardrails to protect employees against falls.
Preambles to Final Rules
- Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction. STD 03-11-002, (December 16, 2010). STD 03-11-002 cancels STD 03-00-001, OSHA's interim fall protection guidelines. STD 03-11-002 instructs residential construction employers on how to comply with 1926.501(b)(13).
- Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). CPL 02-00-149, (June 18, 2010). OSHA issues an update to resource concentration to target high-emphasis hazards, which include fall hazards and specific hazards identified from selected National Emphasis Programs. This Instruction replaces OSHA's Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP), OSHA Instruction CPL 02-00-145.
- Clarification of OSHA's enforcement policies relating to floors/nets and shear connectors; Cancellation of CPL 02-01-046 (Sept. 30, 2009). CPL 02-01-048, (April 30, 2010). Revised question/answer #23 and #25 of CPL -02-01-034 to clarify OSHA's enforcement policy on requirements, all else remains unaltered, in full force and effect.
- Inspection Procedures for Enforcing Subpart L, Scaffolds Used in Construction - 29 CFR 1926.450-454. CPL 02-01-023 [CPL 2-1.23], (January 7, 1997). Establishes inspection procedures and provides clarification to ensure uniform enforcement of the scaffold standards for construction.
- Inspection policy and procedures for OSHA's steel erection standards for construction. CPL 02-01-034 [CPL 2-1-1.34], (March 22, 2002). Describes OSHA's inspection policy and procedures and provides clarification to ensure uniform enforcement by field enforcement personnel of the steel erection standards for construction.
Letters of Interpretation
- Fall protection for workers having to walk/work along bridge decks when the edges are finished with a 32 in. high barrier wall. (September 3, 2015).
- Clarification of personal ladder boom system requirements. (April 27, 2015).
- Employer payment for personal protective equipment. (November 13, 2014).
- Spacing of the posts in between modular guardrail system sections. (August 26, 2014).
- Fall protection requirements applicable during the construction of retaining walls. (May 20, 2014).
- Compatibility requirements of fall protection equipment from different manufacturers. (October 23, 2012).
- Fall protection of telecommunication workers. (August 27, 2012).
- Clarification on the use of safety monitors as a method of fall protection on a low-slope roof. (April 20, 2012).
- Fall protection on aerial lifts during construction activities. (August 22, 2011).
- Residential Construction; 1926.501(b)(3), fall protection or metal stud walls around stairwells. (May 25, 2011).
- Distance at which fall protection is required for steel erection activities. (April 22, 2011).
- Fall protection requirements for employees working on an elevator car frame. (March 2, 2010).
- Interpretation of OSHA Fall Protection Exemption (29 CFR 1926.500(a)(1) during inspection, investigation and assessment activities. (March 2, 2010).
- Whether certain skylights meet the cover criteria of 1926 Subpart M. (December 12, 2007).
- Permissibility of attaching welding leads to an occupied lift bucket and using an external lifeline to anchor fall arrest equipment. (February 23, 2004). Explanation of fall protection requirements when a worker can tie off to a structure that has no foreseeable risk of failure.
- Fall protection requirements for work docks/bridges used during bridge construction. (February 9, 2004). Concludes that the use of work docks or work bridges built to help construct the bridge or to load/unload construction materials and equipment onto barges must therefore meet 1926 Subpart L.
- Fall protection requirements during installation and removal of tarps and sheeting on/from scaffolds; qualifications of person determining safety on scaffold with wind imposed forces. (July 16, 2003). Determines that the installation and removal of tarps or other sheeting material is not considered erection or dismantling of a scaffold. The addition of a tarp or other sheeting material would add lateral loads to the scaffold, and would be "an occurrence which could affect a scaffold's structural integrity," requiring a competent person to inspect it and make an assessment of the anticipated wind forces imposed.
- Fall protection, lifejacket, and lifesaving requirements when working over or near water. (September 28, 1999).
- Fall protection for the Elaminator 300 Insulation System. (August 7, 1998).
- Clarification of house foundation/basement excavation; Fall protection requirements. (February 1, 1996).
- Fall Protection in the power distribution industry. (September 1, 1995). Provides an interpretation of the OSHA standards addressing fall protection in the power distribution industry, (29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR 1926.502).
Consensus Standards and Recommendations from other Professional Organizations
Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
- ANSI/ASSE A10.8, Scaffolding Safety Requirements
- ANSI/ASSE A10.32, Personal Fall Protection Used in Construction and Demolition Operations. Establishes performance criteria for personal fall protection equipment and systems in construction and demolition and provides guidelines, recommendations for their use and inspection.
- ANSI/ASSE A1264.1, Safety Requirements for Workplace Walking/Working Surfaces and Their Access; Workplace Floor, Wall and Roof Openings; Stairs and Guardrail Systems. Sets forth safety requirements for areas where danger exists of persons or objects falling through floor or wall openings, platforms, runways, ramps, and fixed stairs, in normal, temporary, and emergency conditions. This standard applies to industrial and workplace situations and is not intended to apply to construction, residential, or commercial occupancies except where necessary maintenance or work station access may be required.
- ANSI ASC A14.1, American National Standards for Ladders - Wood Safety Requirements
- ANSI ASC A14.2, American National Standards for Ladders - Portable Metal- Safety Requirements
- ANSI ASC A14.3, American National Standards for Ladders - Fixed - Safety Requirements
- ANSI ASC A14.4, American National Standard Safety Requirements for Job Made Wooden Ladders
- ANSI ASC A14.5, American National Standards for Ladders - Portable Reinforced Plastic Safety Requirements
- ANSI ASC A14.7, American National Standard for Mobile Ladder Stands and Mobile Ladder Stand Platforms
- ANSl/SAIA A92.2, Vehicle-Mounted Elevating and Rotating Aerial Devices
- ANSI/SAIA A92.3, American National Standard for Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms
- ANSI/SIA A92.5, American National Standard Boom-Supported Elevating Work Platforms
- ANSI/SAIA A92.6, Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms
- ANSl/SIA A92.8, Vehicle-Mounted Bridge Inspection and Maintenance Devices
- ANSI/SIA A92.9, Mast-Climbing Work Platforms
- ANSI/SAIA A92.10, Transport Platforms
- ANSI/ITSDF B56.1, Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.2, Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program
- ANSl/ASSE Z359.3, Safety Requirements for Positioning and Travel Restraint Systems
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.4, Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components
- ANSl/ASSE Z359.6, Specifications and Design Requirements for Active Fall Protection Systems
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.7, Qualification and Verification Testing of Fall Protection Products
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.12, Connecting Components for Personal Fall Arrest System
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.13, Personal Energy Absorbers and Energy Absorbing Lanyards
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.14, Self-Retracting Devices for Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems
- ANSI/ASSE Z359.15, Safety Requirements for Single Anchor Lifelines and Fall Arresters for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue SystemsASTM F887-11, Standard Specifications for Personal Climbing Equipment
- CSA Z259.14, Fall Restrict Equipment for Wood Pole Climbing
Evaluating and Controlling Exposure
Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma. Before you can begin a fall protection program, all potential fall hazards must be identified. The following references aid in recognizing and evaluating hazards and possible solutions in the workplace.
- Fall Protection in Residential Construction (PDF). OSHA Guidance Document, (2011). Also available in Spanish.
- Preventing Falls in Construction. OSHA Fall Prevention Campaign.
- Worker Safety Series: Construction - Pocket Guide. OSHA Pocket Guide (Publication 3252), (2005). Offers top hazards facing construction workers, and provides solutions.
- Stairways and Ladders: A Guide to OSHA Rules. OSHA Publication 3124, (2003). Includes fall protection topics for stairways and ladders.
- Fall Protection: Safe practices for setting and bracing wood trusses and rafters. Oregon OSHA, (2005). Also available in Spanish.
- Compatibility of Personal Fall Protection System Components. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) 03-09-22, (September 22, 2003).
- The 100 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Construction Standards in 1991: A Guide for the Abatement of the Top 25 Associated Physical Hazards. OSHA, (March 1995). Discusses the most-violated OSHA construction standards. Several of these standards have to do with falls and fall protection.
- Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Falls During Construction and Maintenance of Telecommunication Towers. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-156, (July 2001). Discusses how workers who are involved in construction and maintenance of telecommunications towers are at high risk of fatal falls.
- NIOSH Issues Nationwide Alert on Dangers of Working from Scaffolds. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 93-120, (January 4, 1993). Discusses the dangers of working from scaffolds.
- Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths Caused by Falls from Suspension Scaffolds. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 92-108, (August 1992). Examination of risks from working on suspended scaffolds, as well as prevention methods and related regulations.
- Preventing Worker Deaths and Injuries from Falls Through Skylights and Roof Openings. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-100, (December 1989). Examination of risks from working around roof openings, including case reports, related standards, and hazard prevention methods.
- Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Construction. OSHA's Alliance Program. This is one of OSHA's Strategic Management Plan Focus Areas.
- Hazards of Misusing Wire Form Anchorage Connectors for Fall Protection. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) 09-01-2004, (September 1, 2004).
- Construction. OSHA eTool. Also available in Spanish. Contains information that helps workers identify and control the hazards that cause the most serious construction-related injuries.
- Falls. Provides possible solutions to unprotected openings, improper scaffold construction, unguarded rebars, and misuse of portable ladders.
- Scaffolding. OSHA eTool. Provides illustrated safety checklists for specific types of scaffolds. Hazards are identified, as well as the controls that keep these hazards from becoming tragedies. An estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds frequently.
- Fall Protection in Supported Scaffolds. Describes requirements for personal fall-arrest and guard rail systems.
- Steel Erection. OSHA eTool. Contains information that helps workers identify and control the hazards that cause the most serious steel erection-related injuries.
- Fall Protection. Describes general fall protection requirements, and special requirements for steel erection.