How Long Does it Take to Fall?

Occupational health and safety regulations require workers to use a fall protection system:

  • Where they could fall at 4 feet or more on a walking working surface
  • Where they could fall 10 feet or more to ground or lower level
  • Where a fall from a lesser height may result in serious injury
  • Many workers believe that they have time to regain their balance before they fall. This belief is not always correct.

The following table indicates how far you can fall in just a few seconds:

Time (seconds) Distance (feet)
0.5 4
1 16
1.5 36
2 64
2.5 100
3 144
4 256


  • It is important to realize that after 1 second a body in free fall is traveling 11 miles per hour!
  • Workers must be trained and thoroughly understand the safe use and limitations of personal fall protection equipment including, harnesses, lanyards, and lifelines.
  • You may not have time to grab hold of something safe, but you can still prevent a tragedy. Properly maintained and worn full body harness attached to a secure anchor could save your life.

Presenter Tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.


Questions for Discussion

  • What areas are you working in that you could fall 4 feet or more?
  • Does my fall protection system positioned in a way to limit my free fall distance?