Staying Safe Above Ground: Fall Protection for Non-Construction Workers

Spread the love

While construction sites are notorious for fall hazards, many other professions involve working at heights. From window cleaners to tree trimmers and landscapers to roof inspectors, a significant portion of the workforce operates above ground level. These workers face a very real danger of falling. Therefore, implementing proper strategies for risk reduction is important for safeguarding their well-being.

Dangers of Falls

Falls from even a modest height can result in serious injuries. This can include broken bones, head trauma, and spinal cord damage. Workplace falling accidents are the leading cause of work-related injuries resulting in death for non-construction workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These statistics highlight the importance of prioritizing protection in all industries where working at heights is a common occurrence.

The repercussions of falls extend beyond physical injuries, often leading to emotional distress and financial burdens for individuals and their families. Implementing stringent safety protocols and providing comprehensive training can significantly reduce these accidents, safeguarding both workers’ well-being and businesses’ productivity.

Fall Protection Hierarchy: A Layered Approach

A comprehensive program incorporates a hierarchy of controls, prioritizing the most effective methods to prevent falls altogether. This hierarchy outlines a tiered approach, with the most effective controls at the top.


The ideal scenario is to eliminate the need to work at heights altogether whenever possible. This could involve using alternative methods or tools that don’t require elevated work.


If eliminating the need to work at heights isn’t feasible, consider substituting the task with a safer alternative. For instance, using a lower work platform or utilizing a specialized lifting device can minimize risks.

Engineering Controls

Implementing engineering controls involves designing workstations or equipment that inherently minimize hazards. Guardrails, safety nets, and permanent protection systems on roofs are all examples of engineering controls.

Administrative Controls

These controls involve establishing safety policies and procedures that promote safe work practices. This could include conducting hazard assessments, providing workers with fall protection training, and enforcing the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) when necessary.

Personal Protective Equipment


PPE is the final line of defense in the protection hierarchy. Harnesses, lanyards, lifelines, and arrest systems are crucial for mitigating the consequences if other control measures are not feasible.

Strategies for Non-Construction Workers

Proper training is a necessity for protection. Non-construction workers who are required to work at heights should receive comprehensive training on recognizing hazards, using protection equipment, and what to do in case of an incident. Additionally, all protection equipment must be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure it’s in good working condition. While the specific protection for risk reduction will vary depending on the industry and task, some general strategies can be applied across a variety of professions.

Conduct a Fall Hazard Assessment: The first step is to identify all potential hazards in the workplace. This assessment should consider the height of the work area, the walking/working surfaces, and potential obstacles.

Develop a Fall Protection Plan: A comprehensive protection plan should be established based on the hazard assessment. This plan should outline the specific protection methods to be used, the type of PPE required, and procedures for safe work at heights.

Provide Fall Protection Training: Workers who are required to work at heights must receive proper training on fall protection practices. This training should cover fall hazards, the use of PPE, inspection and maintenance procedures for protection equipment, and safe work practices at heights.

Regular Inspections and Maintenance: Fall protection equipment, including harnesses, lanyards, and lifelines, must be inspected regularly to ensure they are in good working order. Damaged or defective equipment must be repaired or replaced immediately.

Reducing Risks for Specific Industries

Window Cleaners

Window cleaners often work on suspended platforms or utilize ladders to access high windows. Proper fall protection systems, including harnesses and lanyards, are essential for their safety.

Tree Trimmers

Arborists who trim trees face significant fall hazards. To mitigate risks, they should utilize specialized climbing equipment, lanyards, and fall arrest systems.


Landscapers who work on rooftops or use ladders for maintenance tasks require fall protection equipment specific to their activities.

Telecom Workers

Telecommunications technicians who install and maintain equipment on utility poles or cell towers must be equipped with appropriate protection systems.


Fall protection is not just a concern for construction workers; it’s a vital aspect of workplace safety for all employees required to work at height. By identifying risks, implementing appropriate protection plans, and fostering a safe culture, companies can help protect their workers from the severe consequences of falls. Remember, risk reduction is required for a safe workplace. It is everyone’s responsibility, and by working together, we can ensure that everyone returns home safely at the end of the day.

Spread the love
Scroll to Top