Three Points of Contact: How to Prevent Falls

Falls are one of the top four construction hazards that every construction worker faces. In fact, according to OSHA, in 2018, 338 out of 1008 worker deaths in construction were due to falls.

In order to prevent workplace injury and avoid becoming part of a shocking safety statistic, education and training are needed. The best way to prevent falls and other injuries is to follow the three points of contact rule.

What is the Three Points of Contact Rule?

The three points of contact rule means that three out of the four limbs are in contact at all times with whatever vehicle, ladder or stable platform you are mounting or dismounting from. It should be used if you’re going to utilize heavy equipment, ladders or other stable platforms that you’re climbing on and off of.

Create a triangle with the body through either combination: two hands, one foot; Both feet, one hand

This strategy maximizes stability by creating a triangle of anchor points, keeping the center of gravity in the middle of the triangle. Utilizing the three points of contact rule can increase worker safety and prevent injuries.

Other Ways to Prevent Falls

Although the three points of contact rule is essential for worker safety, it’s not the end-all, be-all of employee safety. There are other methods that should be employed to maximize worker safety. These responsibilities fall on both the employer and the employee, as everyone should remain vigilant when it comes to safety.

Employer Responsibilities

Warning signs can remind employees to use the three-point contact rule.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment for all of their employees. Aside from proper training, there are a few steps that any employer can take to provide the safest possible worksite for their employees.

Every employer should:

  • Frequently evaluate and inspect equipment
  • Provide additional steps/non-slip surfaces
  • Provide fall protection gear
  • Install warning signs on heavy equipment doors
  • Instruct workers on safe mounting and dismounting
  • Teach three points of contact to all new hires

Employee Responsibilities

Workers should always prioritize their safety

Similarly, every employee should:

  • Always face the vehicle, ladder or stable surface
  • Never jump down or off anything
  • Always wear appropriate footwear with good traction and support
  • Never use tires or wheel hubs as a stable or step surface
  • Never use door frames or door edges as a handhold
  • Always keep their hands free
  • Never carry items in your free hand
  • Never rush

Other Safety Precautions

Maximizing safety for everyone is always the most important thing on any worksite. Knowing the workplace and the surrounding area can help keep everyone aware if there are any tripping or falling hazards around. The best way to do this is to always perform a routine inspection of the work area.

Make sure to plan ahead for any project so that the job can be done safely, as to prevent any falls from happening. For example, if you are performing a roofing job, you need to think of all of the different hazards that can occur, and then plan for the worst. This is true for any kind of project, private or commercial.

If you’re working on your own private project, you should take care to know which type of equipment you need. Having the wrong kind of equipment can increase the risk of injury, which is why picking the right type of lift, such as a manlift, is an important step for safety. Likewise, make sure to choose the right ladder for the job, as the wrong one can increase your chance for injury.

Preventing injuries on the job and at the worksite requires education and training, and different construction certifications can help. Nevertheless, planning, choosing the right equipment and following the three points of contact method is the best way to make sure everyone stays safe.