How do you feel about heights?  Whether your condition is diagnosable is beyond the scope of this article.  Rather, we want to remind you of fall protection requirements for your community. 

If you are not fond of heights, DOSH is right there with you.    It considers fall exposure from a height of just four feet to require approved fall protection efforts.   At heights of ten feet or more, additional requirements are made.  The purpose of this article is not to provide you with an in-depth fall protection review; but rather, to make you aware of basic areas where your employees may be exposed and for which a plan is required for your organization.

The most common exposure that we see is employee access to your facility’s roof.   If the fall exposure from that roof is greater than 10 feet, steps need to be taken to protect your employee from falls.  Options include:

  • Guardrail System
  • Warning Line System
  • Safety Monitor System
  • Personal Fall Restraint System
  • Catch platforms
  • Safety nets

Each of these options has detailed requirements.  An excellent overview of those requirements is contained in Chapter 16 of the CRM Risk Management Manual.

In some cases, before any work is done by your employees on the roof, a Fall Protection Work Plan must be prepared.  This is a pre-work planning tool that is used to ensure potential fall hazards are recognized by the employees and the proper protection approaches are taken to ensure safety.   You should check your Accident Prevention Program to determine that there is reference to fall exposures, if you allow employee access to your roof, for whatever reason.

It is also important to know that the Fall Protection rules are not limited to four foot and ten-foot exposures.  Fall protection is required anytime there is exposure to:

  • A fall hazard next to dangerous equipment
  • There are floor holes or openings into which a person could accidentally walk and fall
  • Potential impalement hazards

Sometimes fall protection can be as simple as a cover over the hole and sometimes guardrails or other approaches need to be taken.

A healthy respect for height and the injury exposure it can represent will help prevent fall-associated injuries.