Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Fall Protection

Body Harnesses

fall protection

Body harnesses are designed to minimize stress forces on an employee's body in the event of a fall, while providing sufficient freedom of movement to allow work to be performed. Harnesses, and components must be used only for employee protection (as part of a personal fall arrest system) and not to hoist materials.

  • A full body harness should be worn for:
    • fall protection from height above 6 feet vertical from a temporary work site, and/or above 4 feet vertical from a permanent work site
    • when completing hazardous confined space work
    • when working at elevation in a man basket as part of the job
    • work at any height above equipment and moving parts
  • Contractors should be fully aware of and comply with requirements regarding the use of full body harnesses.
  • When the use of one of these devices is required, the contractor should ensure that they are properly maintained and used.
  • Ensure proper fall protection is worn for the task being conducted (i.e., chest d-ring for ascending and descending ladder safe systems and to aid in rescue).

Scaffolding or Temporary Work Platforms


When working on scaffolding or platforms workers should conform to all of the following best practices:

  • Provide toe boards and guardrails on work platforms above 4 feet.
  • Construct, maintain, and use scaffolds or platforms according to specific regulations and industry standards.
  • Scaffolding should be:
    • erected by a trained and competent person
    • anchored to prevent accidental movement
    • equipped with guardrails and toe boards if the scaffold is erected over an area where others should be working or passing by
  • Before using scaffolding, it should be inspected and tagged by a trained and competent person.
  • Scaffolds should be identified with tags that are located at point of access. An example of color-coded tags follows:
    • Green tag - No restrictions: Safe for use. Trained and competent workers may use the scaffold without restriction.
    • Yellow tag – Caution: Scaffold has special requirements for safe use. No use until workers are properly trained and competent in safe use.
    • Red tag – Danger: Do not use as it has been deemed unsafe. The scaffold should be either repaired or disassembled.

Guardrails, Handrails, Platforms, and Barricades

Employees should use the following guidelines for all guardrails, handrails, platforms, and barricades on board:

  • Install these as required by Coast Guard.
  • Provide and maintain signs, barriers, and/or flag persons necessary to protect workers from injury.
  • As required by regulation, install only approved guardrails with safe, sturdy walking surfaces in work areas, walkways, platforms, or other elevated areas.
  • Securely install temporary covering or proper guardrails on all deck openings.


Employees should use the following guidelines when using stairways on board:

  • Light tools and equipment may be attached in a fit-for-purpose tool bag or dedicated lanyard attached to one’s person, but not carried by hand.
  • Keep stairways clear at all times.
  • Report and repair damage to stairways immediately.
  • Use at least 1 handrail at all times when ascending or descending stairways.
  • If carrying items or baggage on stairways, one hand should be free to grasp the handrail.
  • Stairways should be non-slip to prevent workers from slipping on stairways.

Trailing Hand Technique

The “Trailing Hand Technique” is used to reduce the chance of injury if a slip and fall occurs while descending a stairway. Just grasp the handrail behind in a trailing motion while descending stairs.


When working with fixed and portable ladders be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Thoroughly inspect ladders before use and remove any defective ladder from service immediately.
  • Workers should not climb higher than the third rung from the top of extension ladders or the second step from the top on stepladders.
  • Never reach beyond arm’s length from the side rails.
  • Never move the ladder with a person on it.
  • Always face the ladder when climbing up or down.
  • Never hand carry any load or item while using ladders.
  • Never use boxes, chairs, sawhorses, or tables as replacements for ladders.
  • Follow the three-point rule: Maintain three points of contact (2 hands-1 foot or 2 feet-1 hand), at all times when climbing or descending a ladder.
  • Only one person should be on or using a ladder at a time.
  • Only use ANSI approved ladders.
  • Use only fiberglass ladders (Dielectric and non-metal) when working near or with electrical circuits.
  • When in use, the ladder should extend three feet (two rungs) past any platform or landing, be secured from movement, and positioned so that it is no more than 1/4th of its height away from the wall or structure against which it stands.
  • Secure the ladder if used for a height more than 10 feet.
  • If using a ladder for an elevated work area that is more than 6 feet in height, also use required fall protection and be tied off to a suitable anchor point.
  • When using extension ladders, overlap at least 3 rungs of the ladder extension.
  • Fixed ladders greater than 20 feet in length should have caged platforms.

Walking Working Surfaces

Employee exposure to wet floors, spills, or clutter can lead to slips, trips, falls, and other possible injuries.


Whenever any substance has been spilled or is standing, clean it up immediately before pursuing any other job.

  • Report sources of spills/wet spots to ensure repairs are made.
  • If the identity of the spilled substance is unknown, identify it and use proper cleanup and disposal techniques.
  • Take short steps when walking on wet surfaces to lessen the chance of slipping.
  • Keep hands free and out of pockets to ensure better balance.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes and keep them clean.
  • Never run.


  • Use designated walkways or access routes whenever possible.
  • Be aware that some tripping hazards will always exist. Stay focused and concentrate on the path ahead of you.


  • Use the three-point method when climbing up and down ladders.
  • To avoid slips and falls, walking up and down stairs requires the use of at least 1 handrail.
  • Properly barricade or cover floor holes.

Personnel Transfer Basket

When using a worker transfer basket, be sure to use the following procedures:

  • All workers should review training videos on workers transfers as part of their offshore assignment.
  • The maximum load for a workers transfer basket is 8 persons.
  • No workers should be transferred in adverse weather conditions.
  • Limit bags to the usual personal belongings of crewmembers. Do not use workers baskets to transport cargo.
  • All persons should wear a Type 1 PFD.
  • Persons riding the basket are to stand on the outside ring, with arms locked through the ropes, facing inward.
  • Equip the workers basket with a tag line.
  • Swing the basket to the side, over the water, as soon as practical when picking the basket up from the deck of a vessel. Conversely, keep the basket over the water as long as is practical when lowering the basket to the deck of a vessel.
  • Persons should not be transferred using cargo nets or any other make shift basket.
  • Keep basket transfers in the line of sight of the crane operator, or if this is not possible, use an experienced signalman.

Working over Water


When working over water:

  • Work over the water should be a Work Authorization Permitted activity.
  • Consider rescue methods and procedures before authorizing workers to work over water.
  • Workers should wear a full body harness with properly secured lanyards and/or retractable lifelines and a life preserver.
  • Keep persons working over water under surveillance by either a fellow worker or a person specifically designated for that duty.
  • Advise the standby boat of the operation. The standby boat should remain at an appropriate state of readiness to assist if the need should arise.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. A full body harness should be worn for all of the following situations, except _____.

2. Guardrails, handrails, platforms, and barricades on board should be installed according to _____.

3. Employees should use the following guidelines when using stairways on board, except _____.

4. Employees should use the following guidelines when using fixed and portable ladders on board, except _____.

5. While working over water, employees should do all of the following, except _____.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.