Fall Protection

Safe Work Processes

What is Fall Protection?

Certain jobs and work environments may present a risk of injury to employees working at heights. Fall protection is the use of controls designed to protect workers from falling or in the event they do fall, to stop them without causing severe injury. Falls from heights, even relatively low elevations can result in serious injury or death.

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When is Fall Protection Required?

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation requires workers to use fall protection systems when they could fall from a height of 3 m (10 ft) or more, or where a fall from a lesser height could result in serious injury.

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What is a Fall Protection Hierarchy?

Work at height should be avoided where possible. Should fall protection be used, the type of fall protection system used must consider the Fall Protection Hierarchy approach, with the priority given in the following order:

  1. Guardrails – Where fall hazards cannot be eliminated, permanent or temporary guardrails or handrails form a protective barrier around an opening or edge to prevent a fall to a lower level must be used first. If this is not practicable,
  2. Fall Restraint – Fall restraint systems prevent you from falling and workers are attached to a fixed-length line that prevents them from travelling too close to an opening or edge. If this is not practicable,
  3. Fall Arrest – Fall arrest systems protects you after a fall by stopping you from hitting the surface below. If this is not practicable or will result in greater hazards,
  4. Alternative Safe Work Procedures – Alternative Safe Work Procedures may only be used if acceptable to WorkSafeBC

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Are there other hazards from working at heights?

Before any work begins, a risk assessment should be conducted to identify and address hazards related to the work performed at heights. In additional to fall hazards, the following hazards may be present:

  • Weather conditions
  • Wet or oily surfaces
  • Slippery surfaces with limited or no traction
  • Spills
  • Loose, unanchored floor materials
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Uneven walking surfaces, materials and equipment causing trips
  • Overhead hazards
  • Pedestrian and traffic control below
  • Equipment, machinery, materials below
  • Work carried out at an elevation relative to unguarded edge
  • Use of tools or other equipment in

The information collected is then used to establish controls to eliminate or minimize the identified risks.

Download UBC Risk Assessment template.
Download UBC Risk Assessment Guidance Document.

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When is a written fall protection plan required?

A written site-specific fall protection plan must be in place if work is being done at a location where workers are not protected by permanent guardrails and from which a fall of 7.5 m (25 ft) or more may occur, or when alternative safe work procedures acceptable to WorkSafeBC are used.

UBC Fall Protection Plan (WORD)

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Do I need fall protection training?

Workers using a fall protection system must receive instruction and training and be knowledgeable of fall protection requirements as per the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, which includes, but not limited to, the recognition of fall hazards, selection of fall protection systems, safe use and limitations of personal fall protection equipment, inspection requirements, and rescue procedures.

Examples of work activities where fall protection requirements may apply include working on ladders, scaffolds, temporary work platforms, elevated mobile equipment and rooftops.

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How to get more information about fall protection?

WorkSafeBC has the following resources available:

If you have any questions on Fall Protection at UBC, contact Safety & Risk Services (604-822-6732).

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