Revised on
01/26/17 02:50pm
SafetyNet #

Fall Protection

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Cal/OSHA regulations require all employees whose work exposes them to the potential for a fall in excess of 7.5 feet to use appropriate fall protection equipment.

There are three types of fall protection systems: active, passive, and alternate. This Safety Net describes the various systems and outlines system requirements.  Contact EH&S for assistance in developing a written program or applying these requirements to projects.

Active Systems

Active systems include personal fall arrest, positioning devices, and personal fall restraint.  All three active systems consist of a full body harness, connecting device (i.e. shock absorbing lanyard, fall limiter, self-retracting lifeline, etc.), and an anchorage point. 

  • Personal fall arrest systems: used to arrest an employee in a fall from a working level and rigged so an individual cannot free fall more than six feet
  • Personal fall restraint systems: used to prevent an employee from falling and rigged so an individual cannot free fall more than two feet
  • Positioning systems: rigged so that employee movement is only as far as the sides of a working level or area.

Active fall protection systems require routine inspection and maintenance.  Employees are required to inspect their system daily before use.  A “competent person” is required to inspect systems every six months.  A “competent person” is a trained individual capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions that are unsanitary or dangerous to employees, and who has the departmental/project authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate such hazards.  Defective equipment or any equipment involved in a fall is required to immediately be removed from service.  Additionally, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requires full body harnesses and lanyards to be in use no more than five years from the first date of service.

Passive Systems

Passive fall protection systems include guardrails, safety nets, and floor/wall covers.

Alternate Systems

A “Fall Protection Plan” can be used if it can be shown that the use of conventional fall protection is impractical or creates a greater hazard.  The plan must be prepared by a qualified person and developed specifically for the site.  The fall protection plan shall document the reasons why the use of conventional fall protection systems are infeasible or would create a greater hazard and should include measures that will be taken to reduce or eliminate the fall hazard.  Alternative systems used under a fall protection plan include controlled access zones and safety monitoring systems.

Department Responsibilities

Departments are responsible for the following:

  • Implementing a written departmental fall protection program
  • Ensuring employees receive initial and annual refresher training for:
    • Potential hazards associated with operations requiring fall protection
    • Standard Operating Procedures developed within each department
    • Safety procedures and the use of personal fall arrest systems, personal fall restraint systems, or positioning devices
    • Providing training for the competent person
  • Ensuring that fall protection procedures and requirements are followed
  • Providing and ensuring appropriate fall protection equipment is used


1.      California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Sections 1669 – 1671.2 – Fall Protection

2.      UC Davis Policy & Procedure Manual, Section 290-86 – Hazardous Operations