- Safety and Health Topics
- Fall Protection
OSHA has developed this webpage to provide workers and employers useful, up-to-date information on fall protection.
Why is fall protection important?
Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. 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.
What can be done to reduce 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.
To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
- Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
OSHA requires employers to:
- Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
Construction Standards and Resources
Fall protection is addressed in specific OSHA standards for Construction. Provides fall protection information related to Construction.
Fall protection, for activities not in the construction industry is addressed in specific OSHA standards for General Industry, Shipyard Employment, Marine Terminals and Longshoring Industry.
Protecting Workers from Falls
Provides references that may aid in recognizing and evaluating fall protection hazards in the workplace.
Provides links and references to additional resources related to fall protection.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-Site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-Site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
Find Out More!
Photo: National Framers Council
- Engulfment in a Sugar Hopper. OSHA Fatal Facts No. 10, (2015).
- Protecting Roofing Workers. OSHA Publication 3755, (2015).
- Fall Protection in Construction. OSHA Publication 3146, (2015).
- Narrow Frame Scaffolds. OSHA Fact Sheet (Publication 3722), (April 2014).
- Material Hoist Collapse. OSHA Fatal Facts No. 8, (2014).
- Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use Them Safely | Las caídas desde escaleras pueden ser mortales: Úselas de forma segura (EPUB| MOBI). OSHA Publication 3625, (2013).
- Prevention Videos (v-Tools): Construction Hazards. OSHA.
- Fall Protection in Residential Construction (PDF). OSHA Guidance Document. Also available in Spanish.
- Fall Protection in Residential Construction. OSHA, (2011). Provides links to OSHA tools and resources (Regulations, Directives, Letters of Interpretation, Compliance Assistance materials) to help prevent falls in residential construction.
- Fall Protection Safety for Commercial Fishing. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2011).
- Fall Protection in General Industry. OSHA QuickCard™ (Publication 3257), (2010).
- Fall Prevention/Protection. OSHA Publications. Contains fall prevention materials in English and Spanish.