Temporary Fall Protection: Your Industry’s Options - Dakota Safety

We’ve talked about the importance of fall protection and some of the best product investments out there. However, only some of these products are recommended for permanent use. Why is that?

The answer is simple: the material and the design of the product determine whether it is better suited for long- or short-term use.

Perhaps the most basic distinction to make is the amount of wear and tear a product is likely to receive. A product that will be exposed to the elements for years on end will require a more corrosion-resistant finish than those that are only installed temporarily. Products with materials such as zinc-plated steel or polyester are more appropriate for temporary use, whereas those made with entirely galvanized or stainless steel materials are more appropriate for permanent use.

Alternatively, the distinction between “temporary” and “permanent” may be a feature of the product’s design. Temporary products might be easily removed and relocated but permanent products might be designed to attach to the roof or other structure.

Temporary products may also have exposed bolts for easy manual adjustment, whereas permanent products may deliberately require great difficulty in removing their fasteners after installation. However, be aware that temporary products may require more frequent inspection or adjustments.

The best temporary protection systems vary from industry to industry. Read on to learn more about your options.



Workers in construction know too well the imminent danger they face each day. For those people working at height, OSHA requires temporary construction guardrails which, given they are not permanently anchored by bolts, are easily transportable.

Guardrail systems are designed to keep people and equipment from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas and can be used for rooftop work, dig sites, or in large warehouses. Temporary guardrails are a great option for worksites where things change on a daily or weekly basis and can save time, energy, and money.

There are different options for setting up a temporary guardrail – some systems use a parapet clamp which clamps the guardrail securely to an existing parapet or concrete slab. Other systems are base-mounted and designed to lay on a flat surface (i.e. rooftops, floors, etc.).

Choosing the best guardrail system will depend on your worksite, but rest assured: thanks to the number of choices available, there is definitely something that will suit your needs perfectly.

It is also important to understand IBC and OHSA construction standards and which applies to your location.


It may be a bit of a surprise to learn that the highest amount of non-fatal injuries occur in the retail industry. Fall protection is not only necessary when working from heights, but at ground level as well. OSHA standards require any drop measuring 6 feet or higher to be protected by a fall prevention system.

Skylights are a particular hazard in retail (often being found in shopping malls and entertainment centers) that tend to be minimized: according to OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.28(b)(3)(i), Each employee is protected from falling through any hole (including skylights) that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level by one or more of the following... Covers, Guardrails, Travel Restraint System or Personal Fall Arrest System..."

A skylight on a rooftop poses obvious risks, which can be resolved with either temporary or permanent solutions. The temporary route could involve a ballasted fall protection guardrail system; a permanent solution involves the use of a skylight fall protection screen, which acts as a cover and must be able to support twice the weight of workers to meet OSHA requirements.

When working on rooftops, another obvious (yet critical) area of safety concerns walkways for workers. In fact, it has been found that 30% of fatal falls in the workplace are the result of rooftop work. Consider investing in a Rooftop Walkway, which provides anti-slip, level protection. These walkways also provide clear demarcation for workers to avoid any dangerous off-routing.

Industrial Sites

Industrial settings and machine maintenance require fall protection when workers are exposed to fall hazards at heights of 4 feet or higher. Although a fall of 4 feet may seem inconsequential to some, significant injuries and deaths occur from heights of 4 feet or less every year.

Horizontal Lifeline Systems (HLL) are common solutions in workplaces that do not have existing anchor points for employees to tie off of.

HLL systems consist of a cable attached to two or more anchor points on a rooftop, crane runway, bridge or outdoor construction site, or any other elevated work area that poses a fall risk to personnel. They are typically positioned overhead or at the base of the structure and can even be placed somewhere in-between.

When used in combination with personal protective equipment, a horizontal lifeline can arrest a fall, limiting the amount of force that is transferred both to the worker and the fall arrest system.


Fall incidents in the foodservice field may seem less likely compared to construction, manufacturing or other trades that involve height and heavy machinery. However, slips and falls are some of the most common accidents in both the retail and foodservice industries.

A great deal of fall protection for foodservice facilities involves significant effort in planning, training, and workplace design. Maintaining a clean environment and enforcing proper work wear are essential in fall prevention.

Perhaps the most important place for protection is the floors. Utilizing large mats will help keep footwear clean and reduce the chance of scattering debris. Floor mats also cover areas that are prone to becoming slippery. Other products to consider are foldable “caution” signs to position over wet areas and increased lighting throughout the building.

There is no one industry that poses the highest risk of falls. While the level of severity may vary, foregoing protection systems due to irregular or intermittent work-related tasks is not worth the risk.

Researching and investing in OSHA compliant, temporary solutions can be just as effective as permanent systems. Keep employees safe no matter what the timeline, scope, or height of a project.

Dakota Safety's non-penetrating guardrail handrail systems designed for temporary roof-edge fall protection. The SafetytRail2000 system is a ballasted guardrail handrail system that is nonpenetrating and meets OHSA requirements for a fall-protection guardrail system. Contact us today for a quote or to request additional info. 

The post Temporary Fall Protection: Your Industry’s Options appeared first on Dakota Safety.

ConstructFall safety 101FoodserviceGuardrailsIndustrialNon-penetrating guardrailsPassive fall protectionRetailSkylights

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