Do you need fall protection gear at any height?

You know that fall protection gear helps, and you'd obviously wear it if you were working on a skyscraper in New York. But what about jobs done at far lower heights? Do you need fall protection gear even when you're just a few feet off of the ground?

Don't underestimate how damaging even a short fall can be. Experts note that you generally should have protective gear for work that is done at four feet -- or more -- off of the ground. If you work in construction, the rule of thumb is six feet.

There are some exceptions. For instance, if the area where you'd land is more dangerous than normal, fall protection gear should be used regardless of how far that fall really is. For instance, those working over heavy machinery often wear protection at all times because falling on gears and other moving parts increases the risk.

Another exception comes into play when using a scaffold. With most frames checking in between six feet and 10 feet high, fall protection isn't always needed until workers are more than 10 feet in the air. This way, with one standard bay of scaffolding, workers don't always need ropes and harnesses.

It's critical for workers and employers alike to know how the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) addresses fall protection gear. Adherence to the laws and regulations is required at all times.

Where you injured in a fall because you were not given the right fall protection equipment, because it failed or because you weren't shown how to use it? Then it's especially important to know your rights, as these injuries can be substantial and costly.

Source: Simplified Safety, "At What Height is Fall Protection Required?," accessed Aug. 16, 2017

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