Key Terms & Definitions
A fall hazard is anything at your worksite that could cause you to lose your balance or lose bodily support and result in a fall. Any walking or working surface can be a potential fall hazard. Any time you are working at a height of four feet or more, you are at risk. OSHA generally requires that fall protection 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.
In the construction industry, a fall risk is an individual who works at height and may be exposed to falls from elevation that can result in serious injury or death. Common factors that influence and increase fall risks for workers include: age, muscle strength and conditioning, balance and coordination, vision issues and impairment, medication and/or substance use, worker fatigue and extreme hot/cold temperatures.
Fall control is a system of measures used to reduce the risk of falls from height. These systems often include guardrails, safety harnesses, and other types of safety equipment that are designed to prevent workers from falling off elevated work surfaces or from high places such as scaffolding or ladders. Fall control also includes practices like proper worker training, regular maintenance of safety equipment, and safe work procedures for working at height.