Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Fall Protection

Fall Hazard Recognition

At Virginia Tech, a fall hazard exists whenever there is an unguarded working surface more than four feet above the next lower level (regardless of whether the work being conducted falls under general industry or construction). This includes work conducted from ladders, roofs, scaffolds, aerial lifts, work above dangerous equipment or areas which may be hazardous if fallen into, such as pickling or galvanizing tanks, degreasing units, unguarded machinery or electrical equipment, a body of water, or other similar situations. Roof Access

Generally, a permanent means of protection, such as a guardrail system or parapet wall at least 39 inches high, is installed to provide safe access for personnel who must work above or in the vicinity of such hazards; however, where appropriate fall protection does not exist, or where personnel may need to bypass the installed system, other means of protection must be implemented. The designated competent person is responsible for identifying such hazards, evaluating the situation, requiring a feasible means of protecting personnel, and ensuring that the protective system is effective. For assistance, contact EHS at 231-2341.

Note: Access on many roofs is restricted due to potential respiratory exposures from chemical fume hood exhausts. For more information, go to Roof Access.

Fall Hazards

Employers are required to provide protection for each employee exposed to a fall. There are many potential fall hazard situations in the workplace that require the implementation or installation of a fall protection system, whether permanent or temporary. Fall hazards are created when there is a fall distance of 4 feet or more to the next lower level. Common fall hazards on campus are listed below where one or more fall protection options must be implemented.

Loading DockOSHA also defines requirements for dockboards, runways, working above dangerous equipment, repair/service/assembly pits, outdoor advertising , rope descent sytems. For more information, go to 29 CFR 1910.28, or contact EHS at 231-2341.