OSHA requires employers to set up their workplaces to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls. Fall protection must be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. OSHA also requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.
To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
- Provide guardrails and toe-boards regardless of height if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (i.e., conveyor belt).
- Provide additional types of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs, including safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.