The ABC's of Fall Protection

The ABC's of Fall Protection

How to help prevent falls and injuries on the job site


Falls are one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries in the construction industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 300 workers died from falls in 2019, and thousands more were injured. Falls can occur from ladders, scaffolds, roofs, floors, and other elevated surfaces.

To protect workers from falls, employers and contractors must follow the OSHA standards for fall protection, which are based on the ABC's: Anchor, Body Harness, and Connector. These three components form a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) that can stop a fall and minimize the impact on the worker. In this blog, we will explain what each component is, how to use it properly, and what to look for when inspecting and maintaining it. For a detailed look at essential elements of a personal fall protection system, watch our short video here.


The anchor is the point of attachment for the PFAS. It must be strong enough to support the weight of the worker and the force of the fall. OSHA requires that anchors have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds per worker or be designed by a qualified person to have a safety factor of at least two. Anchors can be fixed or mobile, depending on the type of work and the location. Examples of anchors are beams, columns, roof trusses, and anchor straps.

When choosing and installing an anchor, workers should consider the following factors:

  • The anchor should be located above the worker's head, when possible, to reduce the falling distance and the risk of swinging into an object.
  • The anchor should be compatible with the connector and avoid sharp edges or abrasive surfaces that could damage the connector.
  • The anchor should be accessible and easy to attach and detach the connector.
  • The anchor should be inspected before each use for signs of wear, damage, or corrosion.

Body Wear

A complete body harness is usually used for body wear. It wraps around the worker's body and distributes the force of the fall. It consists of straps, buckles, and D-rings that connect to the connector. OSHA requires that workers use a full-body harness, which covers the chest, shoulders, thighs, and waist. A full-body harness can keep the worker upright and prevent them from slipping out of the harness during a fall.

When wearing and adjusting a body harness, workers should follow these guidelines:

  • The harness should fit snugly but comfortably, without restricting the worker's movement or breathing.
  • The harness should be worn over clothing, not under or over bulky items like jackets or tool belts.
  • The harness should be fastened and secured according to the manufacturer's instructions and checked for proper alignment and tension.
  • The harness should be inspected before each use for signs of wear, damage, or contamination.


The connector is the link between the anchor and the body harness. It can be a lanyard, a lifeline, a deceleration device, or a combination of these. The connector must be able to absorb the shock of the fall and reduce the impact on the worker's body. OSHA requires that connectors limit the fall arrest force to 1,800 pounds or less, and the fall distance to six feet or less.

When selecting and using a connector, workers should pay attention to the following aspects:

  • The connector should be compatible with the anchor and the body harness to prevent accidental disengagement.
  • The connector should be appropriate for the type of work and the environment, like resistant to abrasion, cuts, heat and other hazards.
  • The connector should be adjusted to the shortest possible length, to minimize the free fall distance and the potential for swing falls.
  • The connector should be inspected before each use for signs of wear, damage, or malfunction.


The ABCs of fall protection are essential for ensuring the safety and health of workers in the construction industry. By following best practices for choosing, installing, wearing, maintaining and inspecting the anchor, the body harness, and the connector, workers can avoid falls and injuries on the job site. For more information and resources on fall protection, visit Fall protection solutions | Honeywell.