Fall prevention needs your attention: Audit insights and best practices

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February 2, 2024 - Fall protection stands tall as a critical aspect in the world of workplace safety, safeguarding workers from potential hazards. Yet fall protection continues to be the top OSHA violation year after year, with the agency recording 7,271 violations in fiscal year (FY) 2023.

Industries with the higher risk of fall incidents, such as construction, have seen an increased awareness and implementation of safety measures in response to these violations. Nevertheless, the oversight of the dangers associated with working at heights such as on rooftops, platforms, or tanks, continues to result in a constant incident rate, placing employee safety in a precarious position.

Over many health and safety audits, common findings have been identified and we will address some of them here.

Lacking hazard identification

The main concern arises from a lack of effective hazard identification for elevated work tasks, which pose a considerable risk of serious or fatal falls. Failing to recognize these dangers not only threatens worker safety but also exposes organizations to potential legal consequences.

To tackle this challenge, it’s important to prioritize thorough hazard identification for elevated work tasks. This involves:

  • Comprehensive site assessments.
  • Pinpointing potential fall hazards.
  • Implementing effective fall-protection control measures, such as fitting working platforms with compliant guardrails and toe boards.

Misunderstanding controls

The hierarchy of fall protection is a critical, systematic approach to managing safety measures and preventing falls when working at height. However, common misunderstandings surrounding these controls can undermine safety efforts, leaving workers exposed to fall risks.

Misconceptions often arise from a failure to recognize the diversity of available control measures. Some focus solely on personal protective equipment (PPE) and administrative controls, neglecting elimination and passive controls. This narrow focus can result in inadequate protection against fall hazards.


To reinforce fall prevention, organizations must comprehend and execute the fall hierarchy of controls effectively. This hierarchy prioritizes controls in the following order:


By adopting this approach, workplaces can build a solid foundation for preventing falls and promoting the well-being of their workforce.

Applying regulatory requirements

While fall protection regulations are in place to ensure worker safety, their effectiveness hinges on proper application. Unfortunately, many workplaces grapple with the challenge of misapplying these regulations, leading to gaps in protection and increased fall risks.

Different industries have unique regulations governing fall protection. Misapplying these standards may result in noncompliance and regulatory violations in addition to putting worker safety at risk.

Organizations can ensure adequate compliance through:

  • Industry-specific training: Investing in worker training to ensure they understand and correctly apply fall protection regulations.
  • Collaboration with subject-matter experts (SME): Engaging with SMEs to help identify the fall hazards in their facility and make hazard control recommendations.
  • Understanding which regulations apply to which industry: Identifying the primary activities or operations of their business. General sectors include construction, maritime, energy, and more.

By rectifying these misapplications and fostering a culture of strict adherence to fall protection regulations, workplaces can significantly reduce the risk of falls and create safer environments for their workers.

Read Identifying confined spaces, Electrical safety gets a jolt: Diving into NFPA 70E’s latest updates, Unveiling OSHA’s 2024 game changer: Electronic submission for safer workplaces, and Cracking OSHA's warehouse safety code from BSI safety expert Khara Huhta and follow our Compliance Essentials for other regulatory updates.

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