University Safety and Assurances

Fall Protection Information


Sample Fall Protection Sign

Falls remain the number one killer of workers in the construction industry and the number two killer of workers in private industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that fatal work injuries involving falls increased 5 percent in 2006 after a sharp decrease in 2005. The 809 fatal falls in 2006 was the third highest total since 1992, when the fatality census began.

Falls from ladders and roofs still account for the majority of falls. Identifying fall hazards and deciding how best to protect workers is the first step in reducing or eliminating fall hazards.

Studies have shown that the use of guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers, and travel restriction systems can prevent many deaths and injuries from falls. (Source: OSHA

All fall hazards should be identified at work sites with the potential for elevated work. Once an elevated fall hazard has been recognized, an appropriate control measure must be selected. Priority should be given to elimination of the fall hazard over the use of fall protection equipment. The first line of defense in addressing a fall hazard is to identify and eliminate the hazard. If a fall hazard cannot be eliminated, the second consideration would be to assess the workplace and process and implement an effective permanant means of providing fall protection. If a fall hazard cannot be eliminated and changes to the workplace cannot adequately ensure the prevention of falls, the last line of defense should be to control the fall.

Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction. However, regardless of the fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery. Fall protection must be provided on roofs without 42" high parapet walls or railings. Workers must use fall protection where required. Supervisors are jointly responsible for ensuring worker's safety.

Examples of Some Areas Requiring Fall Protection at UWM

Green Roof at WATER Institute

Types of Fall Protection Systems

There are two types of fall protection systems: "active" and passive".

Passive Fall Protection Systems Include: Active Fall Protection Systems Include:
  • Aerial Lifts and Platforms
  • Guardrails
  • Safety Nets
  • Safety Monitors
  • Barricades
  • Life lines
  • Work positioning
  • Personal Fall arrest equipment
Employee Adjusting Harness

Components of a "Personal Fall Arrest System"

A personal fall arrest systems consists of the following:

  • Full-body harness
  • Body Belt
  • Lanyard
  • Lifeline
  • Snaphooks

A full-body harness consists of nylon and/or polyester straps that encompass the chest, chest and waist or full body. In the event of a fall, a full body harness distributes the fall arrest force over the pelvis, thighs, waist and shoulders. The attachment of the body harness must be located in the center of the wearer's back, near the shoulder level, or above the head.
* OSHA Standard: 1926.502(d)(17)

Additional Information About Fall Protection at UWM:

Contact University Safety and Assurances to identify and address fall protection issues at UWM.  Employees should contact their supervisors for fall protection program information and training.

Fall Protection Resources: