Barn and Commercial Property Fall Protection

This doesn’t come up a lot but I’m often perplexed as to if/how to write things up where, by design, there are drop-offs with no fall protection. Barns with hay lofts and loading docks are the two that I see most often. Other general commercial buildings where product is being moved is another one. You really can’t have railings or protection but there are open stairs to the elevated areas.

Barns as part of a residential property I’ll usually put a comment in the report about the potential dangers and restricting access is recommended. Commercial buildings I don’t usually comment. I’m just curious if/how you guys handle this as it pertains to inspections?

Somewhat related is resorts and event venues with water features. This isn’t anything I’d typically be inspecting but always catches my eye. My side-hustle is bartending events and weddings at a golf course here in Maui and it stresses me out watching toddlers run around a bunch of ponds and water features… often with parents having a few cocktails and generally not paying a lot of attention.

It’s about a six foot drop off the left side of this walkway leading to our bedroom at our Costa Rica VRBO. I’ve been trying not to bore the rest of my travel companions by pointing out all my concerns. But I don’t know how much longer I can refrain, lol.

If we had young children here, I would be very concerned. As it were, I just need to watch myself after a few Imperials! :rofl:


Not loading docks, though I do like to see edge paint. Mezzanines and other readily accessible elevated areas will get a comment.

As far as a home (barn) inspection, I include things like swimming pools that are not fenced, retaining walls that may have some pedestrian traffic or play. Really any potential hazard are noted. As far as water features, I suppose it depends on its depth. It is easy to drop in a comment so why not?

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That brings back good memories!

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This has been making my head explode all week. Glad I have an outlet here. :sweat_smile:


Oh geez, for me it is not “will I fall?” it is “when will I fall?”


Fall protection is not always necessary unless you live in a litigious society where people rather than using their brain wish to rely on the govt and courts to safeguard them from everything.


I read the Freakanomics book series (great btw) and they make a really good point about kids and fatalities. Basically, all the super-woke parents asking about guns in houses their kids visit would be much better served to ask if they have a pool.


If there is a will, there is a way.

A friend of mine farms and is huge into fall protection. Anytime he climbs bins, works in the hayloft (century barn), or works on the auger systems between the drying and storage bins, he is tied off. He also has guards on his PTOs and turns off machinery when needed.

My father-in-law was too manly for fall protection and there wasn’t a PTO guard on any piece of machinery. He fell when working on an auger, crushing 3 vertebrae and shattered his ankle. This led to early retirement. He has been living with chronic pain for the past 23 year.

It’s all about attitude.


I understand your pain :smiley:

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Heck yeah, Matt. I know what you mean. I see drop-offs and visualize some adventurous kid performing his obligatory circus act - walking the top of the 10 foot retainer wall.
For me - (residential) I note any unprotected drop-off over 30", no matter where it is. Usually, yard retainer walls, sidewalls above exterior basement stairways, deck-type walkways.
I recommend standard guardrails. If the client ignores the advice, it’s up to them, but at least it’s on my report.
For commercial inspections, I’m most often inspecting for the insurance company where there are specific requirements, such as safety chains across inactive loading ramps, the striped (black/yellow) caution paint along drop-offs, and all the signage and such.

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I am thinking bump strips as well for visual impaired.



Ryan…I’m trying hard to feel your pain for your 1st World problem with your condo in Costa Rica, so I will take one for the team and go in your place in the future…
No thanks needed.