The Three Point Rule - The Key to Avoiding Falls
 Dec. 13, 2010

What types of accidents produce the most severe injuries? Without question it is falling from an elevated level. These accidents produce fractures and internal injuries, requiring intensive medical treatment and long recovery periods. In fact, many hospitalizations result from falls from an elevated level onto the ground or other objects.

What is the root cause of these injuries? Not surprising, it is human error and failure to follow the "Three Point Rule". The Three Point Rule requires that three of four points of contact be maintained with your climbing aid at all times – two hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand. This system creates the maximum stability and support, reducing the likelihood of slipping and falling.

There are a number of measures that can be taken to prevent falls while climbing or dismounting, but use of the Three Point Rule is the most important. As an employer you can:

  • Evaluate every climbing task required of your employees. Provide additional steps, non-slip surfaces and hand holds where necessary.
  • Maintain steps, contact surfaces and handholds in useable condition. Inspect frequently.
  • Instruct all workers in safely climbing and mounting and dismounting equipment, including the 3-point contact method.
  • Install warning decals on ladders and equipment reminding workers to use 3-point contact.


  • Keep steps, ladders and standing surfaces free of water, oil and debris. Report damaged ladders immediately.
  • Don’t use equipment other than ladders and similarly designed devices for climbing to elevated materials.
  • Don’t use storage racks as a handhold.
  • Wear footwear with good support and slip resistance.
  • Don’t climb down with something in your hand.
  • Be extra careful when working in inclement weather.
  • Get a firm grip on rails or handles.
  • Never Jump! You may land on an uneven surface, off balance or on something.

Keep your employees safe. Be aware of all exposures to injury and ensure employees are trained in the Three Point Rule. For more information contact the CMTA Group Workers’ Compensation Program at or call (916) 498-3340.


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