Skip to main content
Rural Health Information Hub

Occupational Fall Safety Interventions

Falls can occur from occupational activities, such as falling from a ladder, equipment, or other height while working. Work-related falls can be prevented by developing a comprehensive work plan before starting a project, ensuring proper safety equipment and attire is available for the job, and training all individuals about fall prevention safety. In rural areas, occupational falls happen most commonly during construction, agricultural, or manufacturing work.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has several requirements for employers and employees to reduce fall risks at work. Employers and employees are required to complete comprehensive fall safety training before beginning work that has fall hazards. The OSHA Education Center provides several online training courses that focus on fall hazards in construction as well as preventing slips, trips, and falls across any industry. Worksite leaders can also reinforce safety awareness through toolbox talks. These informal meetings can provide opportunities to highlight and discuss relevant safety protocols on the job.

In addition, OSHA requires employers to take measures to make work sites safer, such as:

  • Guardrail systems, which are barriers approximately 42 inches above the walking or working area
  • Safety net systems, which are installed as close as possible underneath the walking or working area
  • Personal fall arrest systems, which include a body harness attached to an anchor on the work site

OSHA requires all personal fall protection systems to be inspected before each use. Employers or worksite leaders may use a fall protection plan and checklist to conduct regular worksite inspections and ensure proper safety measures are in place.

Examples of Occupational Fall Safety Interventions

  • National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction is a national safety campaign led by OSHA that encourages employers to discuss fall prevention strategies with employees that may be at risk. Safety strategies include having toolbox talks, conducting safety equipment inspections, developing a rescue plan, and leading worker trainings.
  • OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program provides free consultations to help small businesses identify safety hazards and stay in compliance with OSHA regulations. OSHA works with state agencies and universities to provide consultation services in each state. In Idaho, the Occupational Safety & Health Consultation Program (OSHCon), based at the Boise State University campus, provides onsite consultation services and a DVD lending library of trainings.

Implementation Considerations

When developing or disseminating trainings, rural communities may need to consider the demographics and primary languages spoken by the target audience. Programs should ensure that the language and context used in safety trainings can be fully understood by all workers. Programs may also need to consider how to provide onsite translation services, such as a bilingual instructor or safety leader.

Programs interested in providing online trainings may need to consider how technology limitations and lack of broadband access may impact their target populations. Programs may need to consider the time, space, and resources necessary to provide online trainings onsite.

For information about considerations for implementing fall prevention programs on farms, see the Rural Agricultural Health and Safety topic guide.

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Resources to Learn More

Falls in the Workplace
Provides information, tools, and resources to help prevent falls in the workplace.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Fall Prevention Training Guide: A Lesson Plan for Employers
Offers guidance for employers interested in training employees about falls and fall prevention in the workplace.
Organization(s): Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Date: 4/2014

Fall Protection Resources
Provides tools and resources for employers, managers, and others involved with safety in the workplace to help them design, implement, and use OSHA compliant fall prevention methods.
Organization(s): American Society of Safety Professionals