For the ninth consecutive year, fall protection – general requirements appeared as OSHA’s most cited violation in 2019. Training requirements for fall protection also made the cut, coming in at number eight. Fall protection refers to OSHA’s standard of protection requirements for employers whose employers work from heights of four feet or higher.

Why is fall protection so hard to get a handle on?

Historically, falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Construction is dangerous work. Precautions are necessary, but there is no doubt that accidents happen. Unfortunately, most workplace accidents are preventable. OSHA requirements exist to minimize those accidents by establishing standard practices and safety regulations.

What are some of the requirements?

For most industries, OSHA requires fall protections to begin at four feet. In construction, employers must provide safeguards for work above six feet. If an employee will be working above hazardous equipment or on dangerous ground like a walkway or ramp, even if it is less than six feet above ground, the employer must provide protections. The employer is also responsible for providing the necessary training to equip the employee to handle the conditions in which they will be working.

The use of safety tools such as guardrails, nets or fall arrest systems are known as conventional fall protection under OSHA’s policies. There are also more specific protections for different construction activities, for which there are definitive guidelines.

Options for injured workers

Construction workers who suffer a fall injury are eligible for workers’ compensation claims. OSHA regulations are there for a reason. If an employer fails to provide necessary protections, legal action is an option.