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OSHA Fall Protection Guidelines

03 February, 2023

Missing or ineffective fall protection is routinely OSHA's most common violation, and falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Even with strict standards and widely-available equipment, fall protection remains a critically important issue in nearly every industry.

The informative visual encapsulates OSHA's standards and guidelines for fall protection in various industries. It shares some of the harrowing statistics, visually demonstrates OSHA standards and guidelines, and offers vital tips for safely using fall protection in the workplace.



The following is a transcript of the OSHA Fall Protection Guidelines & Standards Infographic:

OSHA Fall Protection

OSHA Fall Protection Guidelines & Standards

Injuries & Death:


Falls = +212,760 Workers Seriously Injured and 605 Workers Killed


302 Fatal Falls to Lower Level & 828 Total Fatalities in construction


Out of 874 Total Construction Fatalities, 337 were falls

Fall Protection: Number one OSHA Violation

  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

OSHA Rules on Fall Protection

Employers must provide safe, secure fall protection where workers are exposed to falls from the following heights:

  • 4' (four feet) in General Industry Workplaces
  • 5' (five feet) in Shipyards
  • 6' (six feet) in the Construction Industry
  • 8' (eight feet) in Longshore Operations

Vertical Lifelines or lanyards must have: a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds and be protected against being cut or abraded.

Each employee MUST be attached to:

  • a separate vertical lifeline
  • anchor points capable of supporting at least 5,000 lbs per employee attached

Employees working on a surface with an unprotected side/edge that's six feet or more above a lower level must use fall protection (guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems)

Other key numbers

Guardrails & Handrails: Handrails must be 30"-34" (thirty to thirty-four inches) above the surface and securely fastened to or mounted on a wall or partition.

Guardrails must include: Top rails, posts, midrails, and 42" (forty-two inches) high

Toe Boards: Toe boards must be no more than 1/4" (quarter-inch) clearance the above floor level, be securely fastened in place, and at least 4" (four inches) high.

Safety Net: May be used up to a distance of 25 feet below the working surface

Fixed Ladders: Cages, safety devices, or self-retracting lifelines must be used when climb is less than 24' (twenty-four feet), if the top of the ladder is more than 24 feet above lower levels.

Fall protection must be used when the employee's climb is 24 feet or greater.

Proper Scaffolding: Scaffolds must be at least 10 feet from electrical power lines at all times. Scaffolds must be structurally sufficient to support its own weight, plus 4 times maximum intended load without settling or displacement.

Height should be no more than 4 times its minimum base dimension; at that point, it should be restrained by guys, ties, or braces to prevent tipping.

Supported Scaffolds: Fall protection can be either a personal fall-arrest system or a guardrail system.

Fall protection must be used on any scaffold 10 feet or more above a lower level.

Platforms & walkways should be at least 18 inches wide.

Suspended Scaffolds: OSHA requires both a personal fall arrest system & a guardrail system.

Platforms & walkways should be at least 18 inches wide.

No more than a 14'' gap between scaffold platform & the structure being worked on.

Time for Action

For all your FALL PROTECTION safety needs, contact DuraLabel today!