Why Does Fall Protection Start At 4 Feet For General Industry?

We all know that fall protection is required when working at substantial heights. Since the passing of the Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA) by Congress in 1970, fall protection has become more and more commonplace throughout industry. That’s the good news. The downside is that industry in general, and especially new-comers, need proper education by the fall protection community in selection and usage of fall protection equipment.

For the benefit of all, let’s start with the basics. OSHA law requires fall protection starting at 4 feet for general industry and 6 feet for construction. Why 4 feet? When an accidental fall occurs, the person can be falling in any random orientation and most certainly not in control of, nor anticipating, their fall or impact. Unfortunately, fatalities can occur at very low heights, even as low as pickup truck tailgates.

OSHA Fall Fatality

Figure 1. Fatal fall from less than 4 feet

Figure 1 shows how falls from elevations lower than 4 feet can be fatal. Figure 1 is a screen shot of an OSHA report where a 28 year old fell to his/her demise from the tailgate of a pickup truck. A typical pickup truck tailgate is only about 3 to 3.5 feet above the ground.

Stay safe and remember to use your fall protection whenever you work at height.

Thanks for reading!

As always- Stay safe, and I am here if you need me…..

Arnold Timothy Galpin, P.E.

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