NJM Blog

9 Types of Fall Protection on Work Sites

A construction worker working at height, Construction workers are working on steel roof trusses with Fall arrestor device for worker with hooks for safety body harness on the construction site.

Falls are among the leading causes of worker injuries that contribute to time off work.

When workers operate above ground level, employers should install protections to prevent falls. OSHA requires employee training and fall protection whenever work takes place four feet or more above the next level. For the construction industry, the standard is 6 feet above the lower level.

What counts as fall protection? A worksite usually has a combination of the following:

  1. Guardrail Systems
    These barriers prevent falls to lower levels. Guardrails must be constructed to withstand an applied force of at least 200 pounds without failure.

  2. Safety Nets
    In some work, the use of ladders, scaffolds, catch platforms, temporary floors, safety lines, and safety belts is impractical. Provide safety nets for unprotected sides and leading edge work, and when workplaces are more than 25 feet above the ground or water surface.

  3. Personal Fall Arrest Equipment
    When other forms of fall protection are not installed, use a full–body harness with shock–absorbing lanyards, connectors, lifelines, or other deceleration devices secured to an anchor. This equipment must limit the free–fall distance to no more than 6 feet.

  4. Positioning Devices
    This body belt, harness, and anchorage system prevents an employee from free falling more than 2 feet.

  5. Warning Line Systems
    This flagged line traces the perimeter of a raised work surface or roof. It warns employees that the edge is near. It should be constructed at least 6 feet from the edge, or 10 feet from the edge when mechanical equipment is being used.

  6. Controlled Access Zones
    Control lines are placed 6 to 25 feet away from unprotected or leading edge work, to keep unauthorized people out of the area.

  7. Covers
    Covers over holes in floors, roofs, skylights, and other surfaces can help protect employees from falling through. These covers must be secured in place and capable of supporting twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials present.

  8. Toeboards
    To prevent falling objects, toeboards of at least 3 ½ inches should be installed along the edge of overhead walking and working surfaces.

  9. Fall Protection Plans
    A qualified person should prepare a site–specific fall protection plan to train employees who work on elevated surfaces.

NJM was established more than 100 years ago and has remained committed to providing reliable, cost–effective, and safety–focused insurance. All NJM business policyholders receive access to loss prevention resources to help reduce injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Connect with an agent today to get a quote for NJM Business Insurance.

“Fall Protection in Construction.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). osha.gov
“Fast Facts” (2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). cdc.gov
NJM Safety Program Guide, available to NJM Business Insurance policyholders from a Loss Prevention Specialist

The information contained in this article should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.