Fall Protection

Nationally, slips, trips and falls are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and a major source of occupational injury at VCU. Under most working conditions, anyone exposed to a fall hazard of four feet or more is required to mitigate fall hazards using one or more techniques. This includes:

  • Eliminating fall hazards at the design phase of a large project
  • Implementing engineering controls, such as guardrails and parapets, where fall hazards cannot be designed out of the environment
  • Limiting access to only individuals who are trained and qualified
  • Wearing personal protective equipment, such as a safety harnesses, fall prevention lanyards and fall arrest systems
  • Assigning designated areas (Safe Roof Access and Elevated Work Surface Guidance (Designated Areas) [PDF]) as an administrative fall protection control measure, but for the fall protection program specifically, they are not as desirable as other mitigation solutions and may only be used under specific circumstances

The VCU fall protection program applies to all employees, faculty, students and contractors on VCU property who are exposed to fall hazards and/or where activities may result in injuries from falls.

Roles and Responsibilities

The “owner department” is a VCU school or department that owns fall protection equipment and/or has operational control over identified fall hazards. The owner department is responsible for:

  1. Performing Fall Hazard Assessment [PDF], plans and mitigations
  2. Providing fall protection equipment to individuals who require it for their work
  3. Providing training for personnel
  4. Creation of a Rescue Plan [PDF]

Users of fall protection equipment (FPE) must:

  • Follow safe-work procedures as outlined in the VCU fall protection program;
  • Alert the owner department management whenever they discover damaged equipment; and 
  • Follow the safe work practices developed by their department concerning fall protection use. To this end, FPE users must:
    • Assess planned work to determine if FPE should be worn and seek alternative access or work-methods to avoid the use of FPE whenever possible.
    • Be trained on and apply safe work practices on fall hazard assessment, FPE application and use, and equipment used in the field (ladders, lifts, scaffolding, FPE, etc.).
    • Document the use of the department’s rescue plan and when it applies to their work activities
    • Select (Appendix B - FPE Types and Selection for Use [PDF]), inspect (Appendix C – Self Inspecting Fall Protection Equipment [PDF]) and use FPE in a safe manner (see the General Requirements tab for more information)
    • Alert owner department management when FPE has any damage or weakness requiring repair/replacement.
    • Refuse to do unsafe work using FPE. And, instead, use other methods of access such as a scaffold, lift pod or bucket truck and thus avoid the need to use FPE.

VCU Safety and Risk Management will:

  • Consult with the owner department regarding proper FPE selection, use, stocking and safe-work practices unique to the owner department’s work activities.
  • Perform and document annual inspections of FPE.
  • Maintain a campus inventory database of FPE and inspection records.
  • Assist in training development, delivery, training strategies and content to ensure compliance and safe work practices.
  • Maintain and update the written program as need dictates or as compliance codes change.

Contact Us

For additional assistance, contact the Occupational Safety office.

Occupational Health & Safety Staff