OSHA Slip & Fall Requirements in the Workplace


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides federal general industry work standards. In the workplace, these OSHA standards are meant to protect employees from unsafe work conditions. When an employee is injured due to employer negligence or non-compliance with OSHA standards, that employer is liable.

Slip and Fall Standards:

In 2016, OSHA concluded that falls are among the most significant contributors to work-related injuries and deaths. This finding leads to a reevaluation of their past standards and a subsequent update.

  • Fall Protection:

OSHA requires employers protect personnel from falls in several situations. Fall protection is defined as “any equipment, device, or system that prevents a worker from fallings from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.” OSHA provides employers with six options that are considered standard compliant. A guardrail system, safety net system, personal fall arrest system, positioning system, travel restraint system, or ladder safety system must be installed.

  • Rope Descent:

Rope descent is often used when elevated work is required. An example of this would be window washing. In these cases, a rope descent system (RDS) is typically used. The 2016 OSHA ruling adds a 300-foot height limit when RDS will be used. It also dictates that building owners are required to provide written proof that their building’s anchorage devices are tested, certified and maintained. They must support 5,000 pounds for each attached worker.

  • Ladder Use:

According to OSHA, 20% of injuries and fatalities result from falls from ladders. The 2016 OSHA standards attempt to prevent falls from both fixed and portable ladders, ladder stands and platforms. Ladders, in general, must be able to support whatever the maximum intended load may be. Ladder stands and platforms, however, must be able to support four times the weight of their maximum intended load. Regardless of the type of ladder, each item must be inspected before each work shift. Any defects that could potentially cause injuries should be identified before a shift begins. New OSHA standards require that a fixed ladder that extends more than 24 feet must have a personal fall arrest system. This new standard provides a two-year timeline for the incorporation of the new system and the phasing out of the previously acceptable cage system. Portable ladders, by comparison, use a more common sense approach. Rungs and steps must be slip resistant. Any ladder used on a slippery surface is required to be secured and stabilized; they cannot be stacked on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases that may increase the chance of a fall. Portable ladders cannot be moved, shifted or extended while a worker is on them. Unless designed for it, these ladders cannot be combined.


If you have been injured at work, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. If your injury was due to non-compliance with OSHA standards, your employer may be liable. Personal injury lawyers with the Waitz-Downer in Thibodaux, LA are ready to review your case and provide legal counsel or representation. Please visit our website or call (985) 876-0870 to obtain additional information.