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What is the Hierarchy of Fall Protection?

Diversified Education Team
Jan 24, 2024 6:11:54 PM


Ensuring worker safety is critical in any workplace environment, and effective fall protection strategies are vital in achieving this goal. If you are a safety professional or a management team committed to creating a safer work environment, read this guide.

By exploring the multi-tiered hierarchy of fall protection, we will help you understand the intricacies of this vital safety framework. Starting with the fundamental levels and extending to practical applications across multiple industries, we will guide you toward a safer and more compliant workplace. 

Understanding the Hierarchy of Fall Protection

The hierarchy of fall protection is a multi-tiered approach that aims to ensure maximum safety in environments where falls are a risk. It is structured to prioritize methods that eliminate risks over those that only minimize them. This systematic approach is fundamental to workplace safety, providing a step-by-step guide for assessing and managing fall hazards.

By adhering to this hierarchy, organizations can effectively reduce the incidence of fall-related accidents. This proactive approach not only enhances the safety of workers but also contributes to a workplace safety culture. It ensures compliance with safety regulations, reduces liability risks, and promotes a more aware and educated workforce.

A Breakdown of Each Level Within The Hierarchy

Understanding the crucial role of the hierarchy in enhancing workplace safety, let's break down each level, starting with the most effective methods first:

  1. Eliminate the Hazard: This involves redesigning the work environment or changing work practices to remove the fall risk. It's the most direct and effective method of fall protection. By eliminating the hazard, the need for further protective measures becomes redundant. This level is the most desirable outcome in the hierarchy of fall protection.
  2. Passive Fall Protection: Guardrails, skylight screens, and other barriers are examples of passive fall protection. They create a physical barrier between the worker and the fall hazard. These systems provide continuous protection without requiring the active involvement of the worker. Passive fall protection becomes a practical option when you cannot eliminate fall hazards.
  3. Active Travel Restraint: This includes systems like body harnesses connected to anchor points, preventing the worker from reaching a point where a fall could occur. Active travel restraints require some level of worker participation and are more involved than passive systems but are less cumbersome than fall arrest systems. They are ideal in situations where the work environment allows for their use.
  4. Active Fall Arrest: These are systems designed to safely stop a fall that is in progress, such as full-body harnesses with shock-absorbing lanyards or retractable lifelines. When other means cannot eliminate or sufficiently reduce the fall risk, they’re an option. While not preventing falls, they mitigate the risk of serious injury during a fall.
  5. Administrative Controls: These are workplace policies and training procedures to reduce the likelihood of falls. Examples include regular safety training, warning signs, and work schedules that minimize exposure to fall hazards. Administrative controls, although important, rely heavily on worker behavior and compliance, making them the least effective in the hierarchy. Typically, organizations implement them alongside other fall protection methods.

Hierarchy of Controls

Implementing Fall Protection in Various Industries

By understanding and effectively implementing each level of the fall protection hierarchy, organizations can create customized safety plans to minimize fall risks. Here is how some industries are doing it:

  • Manufacturing Facilities: Manufacturing environments vary greatly, from automotive assembly lines to food processing plants. Each facility has unique fall hazards, such as elevated work platforms or machinery maintenance areas. Tailored solutions might include custom-designed guardrails or overhead fall arrest systems that cater to the specific layout and workflow of the facility. 
  • Educational Institutions: Schools and universities have distinct fall protection needs, particularly in maintenance areas and sports facilities. The solutions need to account for the safety of not just the employees but also the students who frequent these areas. For a university’s sports complex, installing safety nets under bleachers or around climbing walls can protect both student-athletes and spectators.
  • Construction: In the construction industry, portable fall arrest systems might be necessary for temporary work sites. In contrast, the entertainment industry, especially in settings like theaters or concert halls, might require discreet fall protection solutions that don’t interfere with aesthetics.

Every workplace has its unique architecture and fall hazards. Diversified Fall Protection (DFP) specializes in analyzing the distinct requirements of different industries and providing solutions that are not just compliant with safety standards but tailored to the specific needs of each industry.

Diversified Fall Protection Can Help

At Diversified Fall Protection, we understand that fall protection is crucial to workplace safety. That's why we offer a comprehensive approach covering all fall protection aspects, from engineering design to employee training. Our range of services ensures that every fall protection component is cohesive and effective, providing a safer workplace for your employees.

Our team of experts can design, install, and provide training for custom fall arrest systems that suit your specific needs. By providing a unified approach, we ensure consistency in quality and compliance, simplifying the business process. You can rely on us for all your fall protection needs, from assessment to implementation and training.

We also offer comprehensive training programs to ensure that employees are proficient in using fall protection systems and know safety protocols. Our customized training modules focus on correctly using personal fall arrest systems in hazardous environments, ensuring your employees are well prepared.

At DFP, we stay up-to-date on evolving safety regulations and industry standards, ensuring that our solutions and training programs are always compliant and up-to-date. Our tailored solutions and comprehensive approach not only address the unique fall protection needs of various industries but also foster a culture of safety that integrates seamlessly with the daily operations of businesses.

Whether you're looking to overhaul your current system or seeking advice on new installations, our team of experts is ready to assist. For more information, to explore our services, or to schedule a consultation, please visit or contact us. Take the first step towards a safer workplace today.