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Fall Protection Program

Sign declaring that fall protection is required to enter the work area

Follow fall protection requirements if the potential for fall hazards exist in your work area.

Fall protection involves eliminating fall hazards and safely stopping a person who does fall.

UC San Diego has a Fall Protection Program in place to help supervisors and employees:

  • Identify work situations that require fall protection
  • Implement and document Fall Protection Safety Plans
  • Select and use appropriate fall protection systems

Fall protection is required wherever the potential exists to fall 4 feet or more in general industry activities, and 6 feet for construction activities.

Departments with employees working in these situations must follow the UC San Diego Fall Protection Program requirements.

Fall protection is not required if an employee or employees are on a low slope roof (less than 4:12 pitch) for inspection or observation only, and do not come within 6 feet of a leading edge, skylight, open roof access hatch, or other floor openings that present a fall hazard.

Requirements for UC San Diego departments

Department heads with employees who are currently using fall protection systems or may potentially encounter fall hazards during their work duties are required to:

  • Designate supervisors/ project managers who will be responsible for implementing a Fall Protection Safety Plan for every project that requires fall protection
  • Provide administrative and financial support for fall protection

For extremely hazardous areas, hire a contractor who specializes in fall-protected work.

Implement a Fall Protection Safety Plan

Supervisor/ project manager, implement a Fall Protection Safety Plan for each job that requires fall protection:

  • Use the Fall Protection Safety Plan form to:
    • Identify and designate employees who require fall protection for this specific job
    • Conduct a fall hazard analysis
    • Describe fall protection systems to be used
    • Document equipment inspection
    • Describe the rescue plan
    • Get approval signatures
  • Ensure that employees are informed, trained, and provided with the appropriate fall protection equipment.
  • Supervisors should be familiar with the applicable state and federal safety regulations, safety consensus standards, UC San Diego policies and prudent safety practices to protect themselves and their fellow employees.
  • Ensure the equipment provided is adequate to protect employees from fall hazards.
  • Prohibit an employee providing his or her own fall protection equipment.

Employee responsibilities

  • Comply with this program and any further safety recommendations provided by supervisors and/or EH&S regarding the Fall Protection Program.
  • Conduct assigned tasks in a safe manner and properly wear and use all fall protection equipment.
  • Report any unsafe or unhealthy work conditions and job related injuries or illnesses to the supervisor immediately.
  • Inspect all fall protection equipment being utilized by the employee prior to use.
  • Refrain from bringing or wearing any personally owned fall protection equipment, and ensure the equipment issued is adequate protection from hazards in the workplace and is in proper working condition.
  • Ensure two authorized workers, see glossary of terms (PDF), are present whenever fall restraint or fall arrest equipment is to be used.

Fall protection locations

UC San Diego has identified, at a minimum, the following locations where fall hazards exist:

  • Flat and low sloped roof locations when within 6 feet of the roof edge or during roof repairs or maintenance (4:12 pitch or less)
  • Exterior and interior equipment platforms, catwalks, antennas/towers, etc.
  • Exterior and interior fixed ladders above 20 feet
  • Mezzanine and balcony edges
  • Open excavations, pits, vaults, tanks, manholes, or other potential confined spaces
  • Tasks requiring use of scissor, bucket trucks, or other articulating man lifts
  • Tasks requiring employees to work outside the vertical rails of ladders (i.e., painting, stairwell light bulb replacement)
  • Scaffolding erection – 7.5 feet in height or greater
  • Elevator car, hardware, and shaft inspections
  • Gym or theater – mezzanine/catwalk areas
  • Whenever an employee must step outside the catwalk additional fall protection (i.e., body harness, self-retracting lifeline, or rope grab system) must be used.

Fall protection systems

Fall protection systems include all methods of protecting workers from falls from heights.

The appropriate fall protection system will be determined by the job to be performed. Fall protection systems include:

  • An articulating man lift provided with a restraint system and body harness attached to an anchor point below the waist (preferably at the floor level)
  • Guardrail with a toe board, mid rail, and top rail
  • Personal fall arrest systems:
    • Anchor points (rated at 5000 pounds per person)
    • Body harness
    • Connectors/carabineers (self-locking snap hooks)
    • Energy (shock) absorber
    • Restraint line or lanyard
    • Retractable lanyard
    • Rope grabs
  • Engineered lifelines
  • Safety monitoring systems
  • Safety nets
  • Warning lines

See Fall Protection: Fall Protection Systems for details.

Rescue procedures

Prior to work activity where fall protection is necessary, rescue plans must be identified and discussed with all employees. The supervisor must develop a rescue plan(s). In the unlikely event that a fall arrest occurs on-site, personnel with the use of an articulating man-lift or ladders, where feasible, will rescue all employees. Alternative rescue options are safety ladders and personal trauma straps. Additional assistance must be sought through the local emergency services or San Diego Fire Department.

  • In the event of a fall, notify the following people as soon as possible:
    • Fire Department and emergency medical services if necessary
    • Rescue personnel (i.e., maintenance personnel, UC San Diego Police)
    • Supervisor/Manager
    • Occupational Safety Officer (EH&S Department)
    • UC San Diego Risk Management Office

Employees involved in a fall arrest or fall should be sent for a medical evaluation to determine the extent of injuries.

All falls will be investigated by the employee’s immediate supervisor/ department manager and EH&S. The following documentation will be completed as part of the fall investigation:

  • Interviews with staff and witnesses
  • Employee injury/accident report
  • Supervisor injury/accident report
  • Corrective action outline/plan

Requirements for contractors

Contractors working at UC San Diego must follow their own written Fall Protection Program and ensure that their program meets Cal/OSHA requirements. Contractors are required to discuss Fall Protection strategies with all parties involved in the work to ensure safe interactions with other exposed individuals.


Fall protection training is required for employees exposed to fall hazards. Training covers the recognition of fall hazards and methods to minimize. Materials must be reviewed to verify each employee has been trained, as necessary, by a competent person qualified in the following areas:

  • The nature of fall hazards in the work area
  • The correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling, and inspecting the fall protection systems to be used
  • The use and operation of guard rail systems, personal fall arrest systems, safety net systems, warning line systems, safety monitoring systems, controlled access zones, and other protective measures to be used
  • The role of each employee in the safety monitoring system when this system is used
  • The limitations on the use of mechanical equipment during the performance of roofing work on low sloped roofs
  • The correct procedures for the handling and storage of equipment and materials and the erection of overhead protection
  • The role of employees in fall protection plans
  • The requirements contained in applicable Cal/OSHA Standards

Find Fall Protection Awareness training at the UC Learning Center.


If the supervisor has reason to believe that any designated employee who has been trained does not understand or possess the skill required by Cal/ OSHA standards, the employer must retrain that employee. Retraining is required in the following circumstances:

  • Changes in the workplace Fall Protection Program render previous training obsolete.
  • Changes in the types of fall protection systems or equipment to be used render previous training obsolete.
  • Inadequacies in an employee's knowledge or use of fall protection systems or equipment indicate the employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill.

Note: Training records must be kept and contain the following:

  • Name of employee trained
  • Date of training and material covered
  • Name of person who conducted the training


Policies and regulations

For more information, contact EH&S General Safety, (858) 534-7513.