Fall Protection 261

Fall Protection provides employers and employees with a comprehensive overview of fall safety for the workplace. Fall hazards exist when people or objects may slip or fall from elevated working surfaces. Employers must designate competent persons to assess fall risks on a worksite before work begins and as work is conducted. Additionally, employers must comply with fall protection standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ensure employees receive adequate training to successfully adhere to fall safety practices and procedures, and provide appropriate fall protection equipment.

Falls are one of the most common and preventable causes of workplace injury. Improving fall safety measures helps reduce the risk of employee injury and death. After taking this course, personnel will understand the fall safety planning process and how to apply fall safety measures that comply with OSHA standards to ensure employee safety.

  • Difficulty Intermediate

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 15

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • The Importance of Fall Protection
  • Recognizing Fall Hazards
  • Fall Protection Planning
  • Hierarchy of Hazard Controls
  • Review: Introduction to Fall Safety and Hazard Controls
  • Eliminating Fall Hazards
  • Fall Prevention Methods
  • Increasing Fall Safety Awareness in the Workplace
  • Passive vs. Active Fall Protection
  • Review: Applying Hazard Controls to Fall Safety
  • Personal Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest Systems
  • Fall Protection PPE
  • Testing Methods for Fall Protection Equipment
  • Inspecting and Maintaining Fall Protection Equipment
  • Review: Fall Restraint, Fall Arrest, and Equipment Maintenance
  • Explain the importance of workplace fall protection.
  • Describe how to recognize various fall hazards.
  • Describe proper fall protection planning.
  • Distinguish between different fall safety strategies according to the Hierarchy of Hazard Controls.
  • Describe methods for eliminating fall hazards.
  • Describe OSHA-approved methods for preventing falls in the workplace.
  • Describe best practices for increasing fall safety awareness in the workplace.
  • Distinguish between different types of fall protection systems.
  • Distinguish between fall restraint and fall arrest systems.
  • Distinguish between different components of fall protection PPE.
  • Describe testing standards for fall protection PPE and equipment.
  • Describe inspection and maintenance considerations for fall protection equipment.
Vocabulary Term

active fall protection systems

A type of fall protection system that requires operators to actively adjust PPE in order to protect themselves from fall hazards. Active fall protection systems are less effective than other fall safety methods and are usually a last resort.

administrative controls

Modifications to aspects of a workplace like staffing, schedules, or procedures. Administrative controls applied to fall safety reduce employees' exposure to fall hazards and increase safety awareness.

anchorage point

A sturdy device used to support the weight of fall protection equipment, employees, and the forces created by fall arrest. An anchorage point must be strong enough to withstand 5,000 pounds of force per employee if used to secure personal fall arrest equipment, or 5,400 pounds of dead weight if used to secure a lifeline.


An International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) standard, approved by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI). The ANSI/IWCA I-14 standard that requires the inspection of and certification of roof anchorage structures used in fall arrest systems.

body harness

A personal safety device, composed of a series of straps connected around the legs, waist, and shoulders, that is attached to a hoist. Body harnesses are a component used within personal fall arrest systems.

boom lifts

A type of elevated platform that is often supported and controlled by a hydraulic arm on a crane or derrick. Boom lifts can swivel and pivot around a fixed point.


A connector that contains an opening, or gate, on one side. Carabiners used in fall safety equipment must be self-locking and require at least two movements in order to open.

chest harness

A personal protective equipment (PPE) component that is composed of straps, which connect around a person's shoulders, and is attached by a lanyard to an anchorage. Chest harnesses alone are suitable for use in fall restraint systems but are not sufficient in free fall situations.

cold forming

A metal forming process that compresses or shapes metal into a finished product at low or room temperatures. The cold forming process improves the strength of the metal.

competent person

An individual who is capable of recognizing and assessing fall hazards or other hazardous work conditions and planning ways to eliminate or reduce these hazards. A competent person is required on worksites where fall hazards are present according to standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


A fall protection system device, such as a dee-ring, carabiner, or snaphook, used to join together system components. Connectors on fall protection equipment are typically made of steel and manufactured to ensure tensile strength.


A large industrial machine with a fixed or movable hoisting mechanism. A crane is used to lift or transport heavy loads.

deceleration device

A component in fall arrest equipment that absorbs shock as it slows and stops a person or object during free fall. Deceleration devices used in fall arrest systems must prevent the person from decelerating beyond a distance of 3.5 feet (1.1 m).


A d-shaped connector used to attach personal protective equipment (PPE) to another connecting device at an anchorage point. Dee-rings are equipped on the backs of most fall safety harnesses to connect the wearer to a lanyard.

drop forging

A metal forming process that uses a hammer or die to strike heated metal. Drop forging improves the strength of the metal.

drop tests

A form of load testing in which a sample load is dropped from a specified height to test the strength of equipment. Drop tests are required for safety nets prior to use as a fall arrest device.

duty ratings

The maximum weight that a ladder, scaffold, or other device can safely carry. Duty ratings must be considered when determining how each device will be used during the project planning process.

electric generator

A device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. Electric generators on rooftops that require repairs can expose maintenance technicians to dangerous fall hazards.

engineering controls

Modifications made to equipment or processes to eliminate or greatly reduce hazard risks. Engineering controls for fall safety can include completely closing off access to a fall hazard or planning to avoid the hazard altogether during work.

fall arrest

A form of fall protection that is designed to stop a fall after it occurs. Fall arrest procedures and equipment must comply with OSHA standards in order to safely arrest a fall and prevent injury to the employee.

fall hazards

Any area on a worksite where the possibility of injury from a fall is present. Fall hazards are one of the leading causes of injuries in the workplace.

fall prevention

The use of various devices or physical barriers to stop an employee from accessing a fall hazard. Fall prevention equipment includes guardrails, toeboards, and gates.

fall protection

The use of various equipment to restrain employees from fall hazards or protect them when a fall occurs. Fall protection equipment includes safety nets, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other devices.

fall restraint

A form of fall protection designed to prevent an employee from reaching the fall hazard. Fall restraint methods and guidelines are included in OSHA standards.

floor holes

An opening in any floor, platform, pavement, or yard that measures less than 12 in. (30.5 cm) but more than 1 in. (2.5 cm) through which objects, but not people, may fall. A drain is an example of a floor hole.

floor openings

An opening, such as a stairway, in any floor, platform, pavement, or yard, through which people may fall. A floor opening measures more than 12 inches (30.5 cm).

floor plans

A diagram of a building detailing the location of primary and secondary exits, assembly points, fire extinguishing equipment, and evacuation routes. Floor plans can help project managers and other competent personnel recognize fall hazards and plan effectively.


A small powered industrial vehicle that has two prongs on the front for lifting material. Forklifts are used to transport heavy loads.


The state of an object falling in a downward motion under the force of gravity. Freefall velocity accelerates rapidly and must be stopped quickly by fall arrest systems to prevent injury.

general industry

A term used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to describe all industries that are not related to agriculture, construction, and maritime industries. General industry standards are enforced by OSHA and apply to most employers in the United States.


A screen-like barrier with openings. Grillwork barrier openings should be no wider than 8 in. (20.3 cm).


Using a physical barrier to block access to a fall hazard. Guarding a fall hazard is considered a fall prevention strategy.


A bar or rod that is secured to posts and erected along the exposed sides and ends of platforms and other elevated work areas. Guardrails provide a handhold and a barrier to prevent falls.

hazard elimination

The process of recognizing workplace hazards and completely eliminating the hazard risk. Hazard elimination is considered the most effective approach to fall safety.

Hierarchy of Hazard Controls

A set of guidelines established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that ranks and categorizes workplace safety measures based on level of effectiveness. The Hierarchy of Hazard controls includes engineering controls, administrative controls, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

hydraulic pump cylinder

A load device that applies fluid power to a piston in a cylinder to deliver force to an object. Hydraulic pump cylinders can test the strength and durability of fall safety barriers.


A flexible line of rope, wire rope, or strap. Lanyards generally have a connector at each end used to attach a body belt or body harness to a deceleration device, lifeline, or anchorage.


Safety restraints that wrap around the wearer's waist and attach to a lifeline or a secure structure, such as a fixed ladder. Lifebelts are not sufficient for fall arrest systems but help prevent falls in fall restraint systems.


A fall protection component consisting of a flexible line that hangs either vertically or stretches horizontally and is attached to an anchorage. Lifelines serve as a means for connecting the components of a personal fall arrest system.

load capacity

The maximum amount of force a structure or machine component can safely withstand. The load capacity of fall safety equipment and working surfaces should never be exceeded.

load test

A safety test that applies physical force to a fall safety system and its components to determine their ability to withstand the amount of force produced when stopping a fall. Load tests include tensile strength tests, drop tests, and other methods.


A railing installed between a top rail and the working surface as part of a guardrail system. Midrails must be installed 21 inches (53 cm) above the working surface at fall hazards where there is no barrier at least 21 inches (53 cm) tall.


National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A government agency related to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that is responsible for conducting research in order to prevent work-related illnesses and injuries. NIOSH works closely with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect employees in America.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA. A federal agency under the United States Department of Labor that ensures safe working conditions and helps employers reduce injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed regulations that dictate when and how to implement fall protection safety.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A federal agency under the United States Department of Labor that ensures safe working conditions and helps employers reduce injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the workplace. OSHA has developed regulations that dictate when and how to implement fall protection safety.

overloaded floors

A floor that is burdened by an amount of weight that exceeds the recommended load capacity. Overloaded floors can collapse and cause severe injury or death.

passive fall protection systems

A fall protection system that requires little or no action from an operator in order to protect against fall hazards. Passive fall protection systems are typically designed to prevent a fall from occurring, or to limit free fall to 2 ft. (0.6 m) when fall arrest is necessary.

personal fall arrest

A form of fall protection that uses personal protective equipment (PPE) to stop a fall after it occurs. Personal fall arrest systems require active participation from the wearer in order to function properly.

personal fall restraint

A form of fall protection which uses personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the wearer from reaching the fall hazard. Personal fall restrain systems often use a fall safety lanyard connected to a lifeline.

personal protective equipment

PPE. Any of the various articles of clothing or safeguarding devices that assemblers or operators are required to wear to ensure their safety. Personal protective equipment for fall protection may include a chest or body harness and other devices.


An open-sided structure that is elevated above the surrounding floor or ground. Platform floors must not be overloaded, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


Personal protective equipment. Any of the various articles of clothing or safeguarding devices that assemblers or operators are required to wear to ensure their safety. PPE for fall protection may include a chest or body harness and other devices.


A metal forming process that uses a die or stamping press to compress and shape metal. Pressing can strengthen metal by bending and compressing it.


The instructions and drawings used to manufacture a part or structure. Architectural prints are used for completing structures and can also improve fall safety planning for construction and maintenance operations.

rope grab

A deceleration device attached to a lifeline that locks onto the lifeline pulling pressure is exerted. Rope grabs automatically lock under weight to arrest a fall when freefall occurs.


A passageway for people that is elevated above the surrounding floor or ground level. A walkway between buildings is a type of runway.

safety monitor

A competent person appointed at a worksite to recognize and warn employees of fall hazards. Safety monitors are required in areas near hazards where fall protection methods are not used.

safety net

A fall arrest device that is installed underneath a fall hazard and is designed to safely catch employees if they fall from a working surface. Safety nets are typically made of nylon and must be tested before use.


A raised platform that allows employees to work at elevated heights. Scaffold types include both supported scaffolds and suspended scaffolds.

scissor lift

A type of platform that can move up and down using foldable, criss-crossed metal suports. Scissor lifts are commonly used on industrial worksites to permit work at higher elevations.

shock-absorbing lanyard

A lanyard used in fall protection PPE that is designed to absorb the shock load of freefall and reduce its impact on the wearer's body. Shock absorbing lanyards are often a preferred way to help limit the force of freefall exerted on the wearer's body to 1,800 lbs. (816.5 kg).


A loop-shaped metal connector that attaches various components of fall arrest systems. Snaphooks connect devices using a spring opening, which also prevents the hook from accidentally detaching.


An established policy regarding a particular practice or method. Standards for fall safety procedures are established and maintained by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).


The process of recognizing a hazard and replacing one work strategy with another to eliminate or greatly reduce the hazard risk. Substitution strategies are preferred when hazards cannot be eliminated by simpler methods.

synthetic fibers

A long, thin piece of reinforcing material that is made from manufactured, or artificial, substances. Synthetic fibers are typically stronger and more durable than natural fibers and are required for manufacturing fall protection lifelines and lanyards.

telescopic handler

A type of powered industrial vehicle used to lift and transport heavy loads. A telescopic handler is similar to a forklift but can reach higher areas than a traditional forklift.

tensile load

A force that attempts to pull apart or stretch an object. Tensile loads are applied to dee-rings and other connectors to ensure their tensile strength complies with OSHA standards.

tensile strength

A material's ability to resist forces that attempt to pull it apart. Tensile strength is the amount of tensile stress a material can withstand before fracturing.


A long block of wood installed near a fall hazard, usually along the base of a guardrail system, to prevent objects from falling to lower levels. Toeboards are required with guardrail systems at elevations above 10 ft. (3 m).

top rail

A railing installed along the edge of a working surface as part of a guardrail system. Top rails must be installed 42 inches (106.7 cm) above the working surface.

trench guards

A physical covering placed over a ground opening to prevent falls and allow safe passage. Trench guards are typically lined with a non-slip surface.

wall holes

An opening of any width less than 30 inches (76.2 cm) high but larger than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in a wall or partition. An example of a wall hole is a ventilation hole.

wall openings

An opening that is at least 30 in. (76.2 cm) high and 18 in. (45.7 cm) wide in any wall or partition through which people may fall. A chute is a type of wall opening.

warning line system

A rope, wire, or chain barrier extended along a fall hazard to alert employees when approaching the hazard. A warning line system can help increase fall safety awareness.