The Real Estate Encyclopedia
Being Safe_ Busting 6 Fall Protection Myths
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Falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities at construction sites. As per a study carried out by OSHA, at least 100 workers fall to their death each year and thousands end up with serious injuries. OSHA also lists some of the measures that employers need to adopt in order to minimize/prevent such accidents at sites, which are related to proper selection and installation of fall protection and safety systems. It also highlights the importance of training employees in using and maintaining these systems to protect themselves from falls.

It is strange how many people tend to make up excuses to avoid wearing fall protection gear, despite being fully aware that these systems are only going to help them evade accidents. Also, ignorance regarding the requirement and usage of such systems is high, which gives rises to many misconceptions as far as using them is concerned.

This post is addresses the 6 common myths about fall protection systems that need to be debunked in order to make construction work a safer profession.

Myth #1.  I don’t need fall protection when I’m working a few feet off the ground.

OSHA states that even if you’re just 6’ above ground level, you still need fall protection, unless you’re on a portable ladder. So, this is definitely an incorrect notion. The use of guardrails, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems are a must if an employee is required to walk or work on a horizontal or vertical surface with unprotected sides or edges.

Myth #2. I don’t need fall protection since I’m a residential roofer.

Not anymore. In December 2010, OSHA withdrew the ruling that allowed residential construction workers to work without fall protection systems. As per the new directive which was released in mid-2011, all construction companies into residential projects should adhere to point 1926.501(b)(13) and also familiarize themselves with the definition of “residential construction.” Since then, this term takes into account the following two considerations w.r.t. construction work wherein –
  • The end-use of the structure being constructed must be as a home.
  • The structure being constructed must be built using wood frame construction materials and methods. The use of supportive structural steel elements in a predominantly wood-frame home does not exclude a structure from being considered residential construction.
Myth #3. I don’t need fall protection since I’m just going to need a few minutes to repair the roof.

As per point 1926.501(b)(1), OSHA requires fall protection for all types of construction work that can be categorized as “construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating.” Whether the work lasts a minute or an hour, the duration needed to perform that construction work has no bearing on the employer’s duty to provide fall protection.

However, there is an exception to the rule. Employees need not wear fall protection while they are inspecting, investigating or assessing workplace conditions prior to the start of construction work or after all construction work has been completed.

Myth #4. I can connect multiple lanyards to a single anchor point.

Do so at your own peril. OSHA and fall protection manufacturing companies do not recommend connecting multiple lanyards to one anchor point. In fact, they recommend you connect only one lanyard to one anchor point. This is because when more than one lanyards are connected to a single point, the chances of rollout or accidental detachment shoots up considerably due to the pressure on the point.

Myth #5. Adhering to ‘29 CFR 1926, revised, the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations for Construction’ is enough to ensure a safe construction site.

If only it were that easy. Adhering to 29 CFR 1926, revised, only ensures that the construction company is in compliance with it, as it should be. Although these rules have been created to deter the occurrence of accidents, it is ultimately the responsibility of the employer to eliminate all the potential hazards from the construction site (as per the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act of 1970). As the reasons for and magnitude of each accident is bound to differ, there cannot be a set rulebook that defines each and every possibility.

Myth #6. Training programs for fall protection aren’t important.

OSHA advocates that every single employee exposed to hazardous working environment must be adequately trained to understand fall protection – the correct procedures of assembling and dismantling them, usage, operation and limitations of these systems, role of employees in fall protection plans, and so on. After the successful completion of the training, employers need to award their employees with certificates that mention the details of the training.


Safety is of paramount importance. The only way to protect yourself from hazards is by empowering yourself with the correct information and busting myths and misconceptions. This post should help clear the air about fall protection systems.
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