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Understanding Fall Protection Requirements in Alberta

Employers are often confused about the legal requirements for Fall protection planning and incorporating a system for working at heights in their workplace. Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Part 9 of the Code 2009 require extensive planning and personal protective equipment when workers are going to height.


The following information may assist the employer or their safety representatives when reviewing these requirements, keeping in mind that company and industry standards often surpass the minimum legal ones.


General Protection 139(1) – An employer must ensure that a worker is protected from falling from a temporary or permanent work area if the worker may fall


  • a vertical distance of 3 meters (9.8 ft) or more,
  • a vertical distance of less than 3 meters if there is an unusual possibility of injury (139(2) (This would be unusual if the injury may be worse than an injury from landing on a solid,flat surface) or
  • into or onto a hazardous substance or object or through an opening in a work surface.


The concept of temporary or permanent work refers to the frequency that the job is performed rather than how long the structure has been in place.


To meet the requirement under subsection(1) an employer must install an engineering control such as a guardrail 139(3). If this isn’t reasonably practicable, the employer must ensure that a worker uses a travel restraint system. 139(5) If this isn’t reasonably practicable, an employer must ensure that a worker uses an equally effective fall protection system that meets the requirements of this Part.


139(4) An employer must ensure that a worker at a permanent work area is protected from falling by a guardrail if the worker may fall a vertical distance of more than 1.2 meters and less than 3 meters.


Fall Protection Course is available at Allstar Enviro Safety.


Arliss T E Levine, CRSP, CHSC
Certified Health and Safety Auditor

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