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Fall Protection

At times it is necessary for College employees to work on elevated surfaces, such as roofs and platforms greater than six feet above surrounding areas. Restraint and support systems must be used with procedures to prevent injury and death. The requirements for fall protection are specified in OSHA's Standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M.

Program Overview

OSHA regulates most construction activities that are performed at heights above six feet. Exceptions to this specific rule include work that is done from scaffolds, ladders and stairways. Inspections or system assessments before or after elevated work is done are also exempt from the requirements.

Fall Protection Systems

Required fall protection can generally be provided through the use of guardrail systems or personal fall arrest systems. If it can be demonstrated that an additional hazard is created or that the system is ineffective, alternate methods of fall protection may be implemented. Different systems may be selected depending on the situation; they include:

Standard guardrails consist of a top rail, located 42 inches above the floor (working level), and a mid–rail. Screens may be used as a replacement for the mid–rail if they extend from the top rail to floor.

Are comprised of a full body harness, a lanyard, lifeline, connectors and an anchorage point that is capable of supporting 5,000 pounds.

This system permits a trained individual to monitor others as they work on elevated surfaces and to provide warnings of fall hazards.

Barrier lines may be installed around the perimeter of an elevated work area to warn of an imminent fall hazard.

Holes through the work area to a lower level are securely covered to prevent falls through the deck.

Additional Precautions

Protection must be provided from falling objects from elevated surfaces. Work areas are kept clear of material and debris by routine removal. Toeboards should be used to prevent objects from being accidentally kicked to a lower level. If necessary, canopies must be installed to protect College employees and students at lower levels. Body belts are no longer permitted and full body harnesses with locking snap hooks are required for fall protection.


Training for employees working at elevated heights must include recognition of fall hazards and methods to minimize the hazards, the variety of possible fall hazards in a specific work area, use, operation and limitations of fall protection systems, and the responsibilities of workers and supervisors to prevent fall injuries.

What You Need to Know

  • Identify areas where fall protection is needed.
  • Obtain fall protection systems or develop specific procedures.
  • Ensure that all workers are trained.
  • Know and understand WHEN and WHY fall protection is necessary.
  • Provide employees with the proper equipment.
  • Ensure that all affected employees use fall protection devices.
  • Attend training sessions as scheduled.
  • Know when fall protection is necessary.
  • Use fall protection systems.
  • Ask questions before accidents can occur.
  • Assist in the identification of areas where fall protection is needed.
  • Assist in worker training.
  • Provide guidance on devices and equipment applicable to the task.