NC State University’s goal is to minimize exposure to fall hazards and injuries resulting from falls. This is an encompassing program that covers all aspects of fall hazard recognition and prevention. It includes recognizing hazards, fall hazard assessments, fall prevention, fall protection, engineering and administrative controls, and personal fall protective equipment. Employees who may be exposed to serious injury from falls include those who work at elevation (4 ft or higher), use ladders, scaffolds, elevating equipment, or personal fall protection systems, who work on sloped, uneven, unstable, or slippery walking or working surfaces or work where there are slipping or tripping hazards. For additional information, email Occupational Safety at or call 919-515-7915.

The following are some of the items covered in this program. You may use the links below to access each element or click on each header for more information.


  • Included: work near unprotected sides and edges, fall hazards when doing work on telecom or power distribution systems, work on elevated and elevating platforms including ladders, scaffolds, and mobile work platforms, guardrails, personal fall protection systems, etc.
  • Excluded: outdoor advertising platforms, industrial rope access systems, tower climbing, and recreational climbing activities.


Definitions and descriptions of Fall Prevention equipment can be found in the Definitions Appendix


Departments are responsible for 
    • Communicating upper management’s commitment to fall prevention
    • Defining the department’s fall prevention goals and expectations
    • Allocating resources
    • Communicating performance expectations among supervisors and other employees
    • Identifying any existing or potential fall hazards and employees requiring training prior to working at elevated heights
Supervisors whose employees are exposed to fall hazards shall:
    • Ensure employees are trained on recognizing fall hazards
    • Prevent employees from accessing fall hazards unless they are trained on fall hazard recognition and controls, including demonstrating understanding, and are properly protected
    • Ensure employees are provided and effectively use fall protection equipment
    • Develop and implement an effective fall rescue plan where required
    • Provide appropriate fall protection equipment, including fall protection and prevention systems and personal fall protection equipment, and ensure it is properly maintained.
Employees who are or may be exposed to fall hazards shall:
    • Complete and demonstrate understanding of training on fall hazard recognition, fall protection requirements, fall protection administrative controls, selection and use of fall protection equipment, including personal protective equipment, how to implement a fall protection rescue plan, and how to inspect and maintain personal fall protection equipment.
    • Use appropriate personal protective equipment when required including fall restraint, fall arrest, positioning systems, and permanent and temporary anchorage systems
    • Properly use elevating equipment, including scissor lifts, aerial lifts, manual platforms, and ladders according to NC State Mobile Elevating Work Platform program, regulatory requirements, manufacturers’ requirements and recommendations, and training provided.
Fall Protection Competent Person shall
    •  Be designated by the department and given the authority to stop work and implement corrective action for predictable hazards
    • Be Trained and experienced in the specific type of work being done, equipment being used, the hazard assessment, and applicable regulatory requirements
    • Conduct a fall protection hazard assessment to identify potential fall hazards
    • Evaluate fall hazards and determine limitations on work activities
    • Determine and prepare job-specific written fall protection procedures and update them as activities change. Z359.2-4.4.5
    • Determine fall clearance and swing fall requirements
    • Selects and inspects fall protection equipment
    • Supervise the selection, installation, use and inspection of non-certified anchorages in coordination with the Qualified Person
    • Ensure employees are properly trained
    • Ensure a suitable rescue plan, if required, is completed, documented, and reviewed by all affected employees 
    • Maintain awareness of the changing work and work conditions that may affect the safety of workers.
Project managers and supervisors hiring contractors
    • Ensure projects are designed and implemented in compliance with this program.
    • Communicate pertinent fall protection information to appropriate individuals.
EHS shall:
    • Maintain the University Fall Prevention program
    • Review and update it as needed
    • Ensure training resources are available to departments and supervisors
    • Assist departments and supervisors with fall hazard recognition, fall hazard assessments, development of fall prevention strategies, and employee training



Recognizing and Assessing Fall Hazards

  • Fall hazards are present at floor openings, floor holes, manholes, skylights, hatchways, ladderways, stairways, roofs, ramps, hoist areas, excavations, window & wall openings, chutes, open-sided floors, platforms & runways, ladders, scaffolds, powered platforms, aerial lifts, manlifts, and leading edges and other locations.
  • Depending on the type of hazard and the type of work being done, OHSA requires employee protection at various heights, or potential fall distances to a lower level.
    • Regardless of potential fall distance, employees must be protected from falling into floor holes, including manholes, skylights, hatchways, ladderway floor openings, and pit and trapdoor openings. Open-sided walkways and platforms adjacent to hazardous equipment or tanks; and stairways with 4 or more risers must also be guarded regardless of height.
    • Holes larger than 2 inches in the least dimension shall be guarded by secured covers or guardrail systems
    • Employees must be protected from falling through window and wall openings where the bottom edge is less than 39 inches high and there is a fall hazard greater than 4 feet by guardrail systems, safety net systems, travel restraint systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
    • For general industry work, employees must be protected from fall hazards on walking/working surfaces, including open-sided floors, window and wall openings roofs, excavations, ramps, platforms, and runways where there is a fall hazard four feet (4 ft.) or more to a lower level.
    • For construction industry work, employees must be protected from fall hazards on walking or working surfaces where there is a fall hazard of six feet (6 ft.) or more to a lower level.
    • For work on scaffolds, employees must be protected when working more than ten feet (10 ft.) above a lower level. And if employees are engaged in steel erection, they must be protected when the fall hazard is fifteen feet (15 ft.) above a lower level, except for specific activities including connecting structural members or components and work done in a controlled decking zone. See 29CFR1926, Subpart R.

Written Fall Hazard Assessment                                                                   

A written fall hazard assessment (Fall Hazard Assessment Form) shall be conducted to identify all potential fall hazards to which an authorized person may be exposed. The fall hazard assessment shall identify and describe:

Control and Methods to Prevent Falls                                                           

There are several methods available to protect employees from fall hazards. The best method is to avoid or eliminate the exposure. For example: observing elevated walking-working surfaces from adjacent buildings or balconies, using remotely operated cameras such as with drones, relocating valves, gauges, and meters to ground level, using extended pole saws, trimmers, or other extenders such as pole extensions for light bulb replacement. Also, use gutter guards to avoid routine maintenance reducing the need to expose employees to fall hazards.

Roof Access                                                                           Rooftop Access Controls

  • NC State controls access to most rooftop fall hazards through a keyed access system and locked access points. 
  • Regardless of the means of access, before accessing rooftops, persons needing access, including faculty, staff, students, contractors, and visitors must:
    • conduct a fall hazard assessment
    • complete required training according to the hazard assessment, 
    • demonstrate their ability to comply with applicable requirements, including wearing PPE and attaching to a designated anchorage.

Other Methods of Fall Prevention System


Ladders, Scissor Lifts, Aerial Lifts, and other elevating equipment-

    • Ladders:
      • A ladder user can fall and be seriously injured, particularly when the fall is 4 ft or greater. Users must be trained on ladder use and must use ladders properly. Refer to the Ladder Safety Program for information.
      • A personal fall protection system is required for any ladder where there is a fall hazard of 24 ft or greater, regardless of the ladder height. This includes small portable ladders adjacent to fall hazards.
      • Fixed ladders shall be affixed with a personal fall protection system, such as a ladder safety system or climbing ladder fall arrest system, if the fall hazard is greater than 24 ft.
    • Aerial lifts, scissor lifts, and other Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs):
      • Several types of equipment can be used to elevate workers to heights greater than four feet above a lower surface; and each type has particular fall protection requirements for safe use. Make sure the equipment is designed and intended to lift personnel.
      • Always read and understand the instructions for the specific MEWP being used.
      • Personal Fall Protection while using an MEWP: All personnel in an MEWP shall use a personal fall protection system (harness & lanyard) where the MEWP manufacturer has installed or approved a designated anchorage for personal fall protection
      •  MEWPs are not specifically designed to transfer personnel from one level to another or for leaving the work platform. Exiting (or entering) an MEWP at height shall only be permitted through a procedure provided by the manufacturer or qualified person as specified in the MEWP Procedure (ANSI A92.22, 6.8.33 Exiting (or Entering) an MEWP at Height)
      • Refer to the NC State Mobile Elevated Work Platform Program for requirements and information.
    •  Scaffolds:
      • Scaffold use shall comply with the applicable OSHA standard, OSHA 1926, subpart L for construction, or 1910.27 for general industry work.
      • Each employee on a scaffold more than 10 feet (3.1 m) above a lower level shall be protected from falling to that lower level by use of a guardrail and/or personal fall protection system as specified in OSHA 1926, subpart L for construction, or 1910.27 for general industry work.
      • Unless otherwise specified in OSHA 1926 Subpart L, scaffold platforms shall not be more than 14 inches from the face of the work unless protection from a fall hazard is provided and used. 
      • Specific fall protection for different types of scaffolds:
        • suspension scaffolds require both a guardrail and a personal fall arrest  system.
        • adjustable scaffolds require a guardrail when supported by a frame structure and both a guardrail and personal fall arrest system when suspended.
        • catenary, float, needle beam, ladder jack, boatswains’ chair, or rope descent system require the use of a personal fall arrest system.
        • A competent person shall determine the feasibility and safety of providing fall protection for employees erecting or dismantling supported scaffolds. Employers are required to provide fall protection for employees erecting or dismantling supported scaffolds where the installation and use of such protection is feasible and does not create a greater hazard.


    • Supervisors shall ensure each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards receives training to recognize fall hazards and how to minimize fall hazards.
    • Supervisors shall ensure employee training in the following areas:
      • The nature of fall hazards in the work area
      • How to recognize fall hazards and the hazards of falling
      • Procedures for minimizing exposure to fall hazards
      • The correct procedures for using, donning, doffing, attaching, inspecting, adjusting and maintaining fall protection equipment
      • Procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling and inspecting fall protection systems they are qualified to work with.
      • Procedures on ladder selection, inspection and the proper use of ladders.
      • Procedures to determine the maximum possible fall distance using the personal fall arrest system provided.
      • Supervisors shall ensure employees are trained on the use of elevating equipment including scaffolds, articulating boom lifts, aerial lifts, scissor lifts, manlifts, elevators, and ladders.

The department shall document the training which shall include names of trainees and training providers, dates and locations of training, course objective and training content, and assessments of trainee understanding of training content and performance of skills and exercises.

  • Competent person training 
    • Competent person training shall include classroom training on:
      • Authorized person training
      • fall protection hierarchy of controls;
      • applicable fall protection regulations and standards;
      • understanding and conducting fall hazard surveys;
      • the responsibilities of persons designated under this program and procedure;
      • detailed inspection of equipment components and systems;
      • fall protection system assessments and determining  when a system is safe or unsafe for use;
      • understanding and conducting fall hazard task/risk assessments
      • determining fall protection systems and methods appropriate for the task
      • implementing fall protection and rescue procedures
    • Practical training shall include instruction and performance assessments, as applicable, on:
        • identification and survey of fall hazards and developing survey report;
        • identification of a primary means of support and secondary fall protection systems;
        • selection and use of non-certified anchorages with a focus on strength and location;
        • calculating maximum deceleration and arrest distances for the control of clearance requirements for fall arrest systems;
        • estimation and methods for the control of swing falls;
        • use of fall protection equipment in travel restraint and work positioning applications;
        • estimation and methods for the control of free fall distances;
        • estimation and methods for the control of arresting forces;
        • principles of 100% fall protection and how to remain protected while transferring from one fall protection system or structure to another;
        • principles of fall protection system assembly, focusing on the reduction and control of connections, free fall distances, arresting forces, swing fall and ease of rescue;
        • anchoring and tie off techniques;
    • Every authorized person shall receive training before being exposed to a fall hazard.
    • Authorized person training shall include:
      • fall hazard recognition;
      • fall prevention and control methods;
      • applicable fall protection regulations and standards;
      • the responsibilities of designated persons under this standard;
      • before-use inspection of equipment components and systems;
      • the understanding and use of fall protection equipment and systems;
      • the understanding of fall protection and rescue procedures
      • the purpose, use, application, and limitations of all fall protection equipment and practices applicable to the scope of work
      • Personal fall protection equipment training shall include instruction and performance assessments of personal fall protection equipment that will be used by the authorized person, including:
        • before-use inspection, assembly, use, disassembly and storage according to the manufacturers’ instructions for:
          • anchorage connector(s) and tie-off techniques;
          • connectors (snaphooks, carabiners, D-rings, etc.) in use, with an emphasis to recognize incompatible connections;
          • personal energy absorbers, including energy absorbing and restraint lanyards;
          • full body harnesses;
          • self-retracting devices;
          • single anchor vertical lifelines and fall arresters;
          • climbing ladder fall arrest systems;
          • temporary horizontal lifelines;
          • work-positioning lanyards and assemblies;
          • descent control systems (friction operated devices) with an emphasis for an independent fall protection system;
          • pulley and winch systems (block and tackles, self-retracting devices with rescue capability) with an emphasis for an independent fall protection system
          • passive fall protection systems (guardrails, covers, barriers, nets);
          • local engineered and/or custom fall protection systems and equipment.
        • Practical training shall include instruction and performance assessments, as applicable, on:
          • estimation of free fall distances;
          • estimation of swing falls;
          • estimation of total fall distance and clearance requirements for fall arrest systems;
          • estimation of arresting forces;
          • principles of 100% fall protection and how to remain protected while transferring from one fall protection system or structure to another.