Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Fall Protection General Requirements

When selecting a means of fall protection for any given hazard, the following hierarchy of controls should be considered in order of preference. There may be situations where more than one control measure is necessary to reduce the risk of a fall.

Existing building-specific fall hazard conditions and available fall protection information is available on the Roof Access Chart.

Elimination or Substitution

Removing the fall hazard, or the hazardous work practice or task, is the most effective control measure for eliminating the risk of falls from heights. Examples include relocating gauges or valves to ground level, installing gutter guards to reduce or eliminate routine maintenance, using extended pole saws, trimmers, or light bulb changers, or the use of drones for inspections of elevated surfaces.

Passive Fall Protection Systems

Passive fall protection options include those where the hazard or practice is isolated or separated from personnel. Examples include:

Temporary GuardrailGuardrails

OSHA-compliant guardrails or parapet walls of sufficient height (on roofs) provide a permanent means of fall protection, which are sufficient provided that they are not misused (i.e. leaning through or over guardrails or walls which could result in a fall). Guardrails may be temporarily installed for the length of the project, or permanently installed where access is more frequent. Openings in walls greater than or equal to 30 inches in height and at least 18 inches wide require a guardrail system or other appropriate means of protection. For more information, click here.


Holes in floors, roofs, or other walking/working surfaces must be effectively covered.

  • Covers must be capable of supporting, without failure, at least two times the maximum intended load (personnel, equipment, materials, etc.) that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.
  • Covers used for temporary protection, such as on construction projects, shall be secured in place and marked with the word "Hole" or "Cover" to identify the potential hazard.
  • Close roof hatches (unless guarded on all sides by a guardrail system) when on the roof to eliminate fall hazards.

Active Fall Protection Systems

Fall Restraint

Fall restraint systems involve securing the person to an anchorage using a lanyard short enough to prevent the person's center of gravity from reaching the fall hazard. Examples include:

Travel Restraint Systems

Travel restraint systems consist of an anchorage, anchorage connector, connecting device (ex. lanyard), and body harness to eliminate the possibility of a person from going over the edge of a walking-working surface. For more information, click here.

Fall PositioningPositioning Systems

Positioning systems are used on vertical surfaces, such as window cleaning, climbing poles, or working on rebar to prevent the worker from free falling more than two feet. For more information, click here.

Ladder Safety Systems

Where Ladder Safety Systems are provided for fixed ladders extending more than 24 feet, or as provided on new installations after November 19, 2018, personnel must be trained on the proper use of the system. For information on design and installation criteria, click here.

Fall Arrest

Fall arrest systems are designed to stop a person after a fall has begun. Systems must reduce the fall force to less than 1,800 lbs. Determine the fall clearance distance when selecting components and the arrangement of a personal fall arrest system.

Personal Fall Arrest Systems

Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS) consist of an appropriate anchor point, connecting device, and full body harness. Only trained personnel may use such systems. Anchor point selection is critical, and there are several permanent options available across campus depending on the location. Where anchor points are not provided, certain structural members may be used provided they will support the maximum intended load in the event of a fall. For more information, click here.

Safety NetsSafety Net

Safety nets may also be used to prevent falls to the next lower level; however, they typically are not a feasible option for fall hazard situations on campus.

Administrative Controls

Work practices or procedures that signal or warn personnel to avoid approaching a fall hazard include the use of Designated Areas, Warning Lines, or Safety Monitor Systems. Personnel using these systems must have training on the requirements of properly implementing the option. Administrative controls are the least desireable option, and should be considered only when other passive or active systems are not feasible.

Designated Areas (Work on Low-Sloped Roofs)

Designated areas are permitted in general industry applications (e.g. maintenance work/activities), where work is performed on flat or low-sloped roofs that is at least six feet, but less than 15 feet, from the roof edge, and guardrails, safety nets, travel restraint systems or personal fall arrest systems are not available, and the work is both infrequent and temporary. For more information, click here.

Warning Lines

Warning lines may be used on flat or low-sloped roofs during construction activities to establish an area where work may be performed without additional fall protection within the area. Where work must be performed outside of the warning line, additional fall protection means must be implemented. Warning line information can be found here.

Safety Monitor System

Safety monitor systems shall only be considered when all other fall protection options have been deemed infeasible. Other feasible options may include the use of scaffolding or aerial Lifts. Safety monitor information can be found here.