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Falls through Openings and Holes Safety Talk

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Caídas a través de aberturas y orificios Charla de seguridad

It is common to find unfinished and unguarded areas on a construction site. This can occur before skylights have been installed or appropriate guarding has been placed around temporary holes or stairways. They can happen where new windows or doors are to be placed or on an edge that does not have an appropriate railing installed. Having necessary fall protection in these areas, even if temporary, could prevent serious injury or death.

Ensure necessary fall protection is in place:

Openings and holes could require the common types of fall protection listed below.

  • Permanent guardrails
  • Temporary guardrails
  • Secured floor hole covers

A fall arrest system may be required if working at a certain height. Additionally, harnesses and lanyards as well as safety nets may be the only feasible option in some situations. Toe boards and floor marking tape can also be beneficial as added protection to the area.

Floor cover requirements:

  • If a floor opening is not being used, keep it securely covered with a clear label such as “HOLE” or “COVER”.
  • Even if someone else created an opening, each person on the job site should work together to keep it covered.
  • Covers should be able to withstand what may pass over them. They should hold two times the weight of the workers, tools, materials, and equipment on site.
  • At least ¾” plywood, oriented strand wood, or other material must be used.
  • Each cover should be secured with nails or screws to prevent it from shifting.
  • If an opening is larger than the plywood, a railing should be installed instead.


This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for information purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. The information material does not amend the provisions of any insurance policy issued by CompSource Mutual. It is not a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy provisions, and any applicable law.

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