Fall Prevention in Construction: Safety Nets

United Alliance Services is joining the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.  Employers will be conducting safety stand-down activities from May 4-15 across the nation.

Stand-down activities include stopping work activities to talk about safety; in this case, fall prevention in construction.  OSHA, along with its partners, have pulled together resources for employers to have meaningful discussions about fall prevention.  Helpful resources for stand-down meetings can be found on OSHA’s website.

If your company does not have the time or resources to plan a stand-down, you can attend a local event together as a team. There are local stand-down events happening across the U.S and Puerto Rico. Check the listing on OSHA.gov for an event near you.

In an effort to support the National Safety Stand-Down, United Alliance Services will be publishing safety talks on fall prevention through May 15. For 2013, OSHA reported that falls accounted for a staggering 36.5% of fatalities in construction (https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html). This is why it so important for us to take the time to talk about safety and fall prevention.

The OSHA requirement for fall protection is that each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal or vertical) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by one of the 3 recognized conventional fall protection systems:

Guardrail systems
Safety net systems
Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

However, OSHA does allow for alternative methods to the 3 recognized conventional fall protection systems depending on the scope of work and the determination of greater hazard, infeasibility and impossibility. What cannot be considered for selecting an alternate method to one of the 3 conventional fall protection systems is impracticality.

Over the next week we will explore different fall prevention topics, beginning with safety nets. Here are some things you should know before deploying safety nets:

The selection of safety net systems over the other 2 conventional fall protection systems must be carefully considered. Safety net systems are passive and allow for an employee to free fall up to 30 feet. Even a free fall into a safety net has the potential to cause serious or fatal injury.

When selecting safety net systems as the means of conventional fall protection they shall be installed as close as practicable under the walking/working surface on which employees are working, but in no case more than 30 feet below such level
Safety nets shall extend outward from the outermost projection of the work surface to 8, 10 & 13 feet depending on the vertical distance from the working level to the horizontal plane of net
Defective nets shall not be used
Materials, scrap pieces, equipment, and tools which have fallen into a safety net shall be removed as soon as possible from the net and at least before the next work shift
Safety net installations shall be drop-tested at the jobsite after initial installation and before being used as a fall protection system, whenever relocated, after major repair, and at 6-month intervals if left in one place. The drop-test shall consist of a 400 pound bag of sand 30 inches in diameter + or – 2 inches dropped into the net from the highest walking/working surface at which employees are exposed to fall hazards, but not from less than 42 inches above that level; except that when the employer can demonstrate that it is unreasonable to perform the drop-test the employer (or a designated competent person) shall certify that the net and net installation is in compliance with the OSHA requirement for safety net systems by preparing a certification record prior to the net being used as a fall protection system.

This information is not provided as a compliance guideline or intended to substitute for the OSHA requirements for fall protection; or more specifically for safety net systems.  Please see the OSHA Standards for fall protection and safety net systems respectively at:



Additionally, you can go to the OSHA eTool at:


OSHA does also provide detailed paragraph-by-paragraph explanation of Subpart M – Fall protection in the preamble to the Final Rule. At UASC, we have construction safety specialists who are well versed in Subpart M and this preamble.



Disclaimer: The information in this blog is provided by United Alliance Services Corporation and based on compliance regulations and standards for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems and sound industry best practices. United Alliance Services is not responsible for any conditions or information not specifically identified in this blog, nor for future unsafe work practices, procedures, actions, or inactions taken by client or their employees while performing their assigned duties.