The hierarchy of fall protection is a tool used to rank the most effective and safe methods of reducing the risk and consequences of a fall from heights.

Often when discussing fall protection people jump right into tying off, there are many options to choose from that protect a worker by eliminating or controlling fall hazards.

The following steps are ranked in the order that they should be considered.

Eliminate the hazard
  • Change procedures
  • Redesign work process
  • Relocate work area
  • Design out the risk
  • Not always feasible or cost effective
Guard the hazard
  • Permanent or temporary barriers such as guardrails and handrails
  • Does not require user training
  • Does not require user participation
Travel restraint
  • Worker cannot reach the hazard
  • Eliminates the possibility of a fall by restricting movement or body positioning
  • May prevent a worker from completing a task
Fall arrest system
  • Engineered so a fall is arrested within acceptable forces and distance
  • A fall is still possible, but a worker is prevented from contacting the ground or objects below.
  • Injuries can still be sustained
  • Requires worker training and competency
  • A comprehensive rescue plan is needed
Administrative controls
  • Work practices or procedures
  • Brings awareness to the hazard through warning signs or demarcation systems
  • Hazard is still present and unguarded

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