Afraid of Falling: Five Tips on Minimising Damage and Injury During a Fall

Lawrence Kim

If you have workers who work at high heights on roofs, the sides of buildings, theatre cat walks or any other elevated areas, it is critical to pay attention to height safety. In addition to having your workers wear harnesses and other safety equipment, you should consider training them to fall.

A fall from a height of even three metres could potentially break your spine and result in your death. However, there are also stories of people surviving falls of over 10,000 metres. Here are some tips on falling safely:

1. Increase resistance while falling

If you fall from a height, your body weight and the height work together to determine the velocity of your fall. If possible, you want to increase your resistance while falling. You can do this by grabbing anything that slows your fall, from branches to awnings.

2. Protect your neck

During a fall from any height, the biggest risk for long term injury comes from breaking the top of your spine. To protect this delicate area, make sure that you learn to instinctively protect your neck as you fall.

If you are falling forward you should bring your shoulders up and look to the side. This position protects your neck as well as your nose and chin from injury. If you are falling backward, tuck your chin into your chest to protect your neck.

3. Spread out the impact of the fall

When you hit the ground from a high height, you don't want the impact to only affect one part of your body. For example, if the entire weight of your fall is focused just on your hand, your wrist could easily break. Instead, you want to land on the widest area of your body possible.

If falling forward, that means spreading the force of the fall to your forearms. If falling backward, try to land on your bum.

4. Roll when you hit the ground

If you want to fall in the safest way possible, you need to dissipate the force of the fall through rolling. If you are falling sideways, you want to roll on your shoulder and keep rolling until you stop. If you are falling forward or backward, you ideally want to go into a forward or backward roll.

5. Practise safe falling techniques

In addition to taking a height safety class and taking all of the proper precautions regarding height safety, you should also practise safe falling techniques. Putting the above ideas into action without practising them can be virtually impossible.

Instead, find a tumbling mat or a soft patch of grass and let yourself and your workers practise falling. Don't practise falling from high heights. Just practise from the ground or from a metre high surface to train your body. Alternatively, explore one of the martial arts like jujitsu that teaches people how to fall without hurting themselves.

For more information, contact a local height safety company like Australian Height Safety Services