Unpacking Fall Protection


Now that I have just completed my Fall Arrest course and I am ready to conquer the working at height industry, all of a sudden, I am confronted with terminologies like: Fall Restraint, Fall Arrest and Fall Prevention…oh no…what does all this mean?

These are common questions that is being asked on a daily basis by individuals working in the Working at Height arena. More often than not, these subjects are the source of major indifferences and discrepancies in the workplace between technicians, supervisors and Safety Officers.​

Fall Protection refers to a part of safety equipment or initiative that is utilised to make working at height safer. When used specifically, the term refers to all measures and devices used to prevent a fall from occurring. In general, the term “fall protection” refers to any type of planned system to either prevent or minimize falls from heights, this is inclusive of workers, equipment, tools or machinery.​

In general reference, fall protection systems are either passive or active. Passive System can either be a netting system or a rail, whereby an Active system requires participation of another person in order for it to be utilised properly. In other words, active systems are commonly referred to as Personal Fall Protection Systems.

Let us take a moment to dissect each of these terminologies and expel the myths connected to them:

Fall Prevention:

Could be referred to as the hierarchy of control measures to prevent any worker to access a situation whereby a fall hazard exists.

Fall arrest:

Generally, this refers to the act of arresting a free fall; or the instant where a descending free fall is stopped by the assistance of some supporting equipment. Personal Fall Arrest equipment bids the worker significant freedom of movement in order to carry out their assigned tasks whilst preventing them from falling to the ground or lower level when they’re working at height. Fall arrest is a form of fall protection system that prevents an already active fall from causing serious injury or death.

​Fall Restraint:

It is a series of equipment that is configured to restrain the worker from accessing the hazardous situation of a potential fall. In this situation, there is no barrier between the worker and the fall hazard, but fall protection equipment is used that will physically not allow the worker to reach the fall hazard. For Example; should a worker work in a fall restraint environment and uses a 2-meter lanyard that is connected to an anchor point that is 3 meters away from the fall hazard, the full length of the lanyard will not allow the worker to reach the fall hazard.

The IWH, in partnership with the Master Builders Association (GP North) will host a workshop/seminar on the 20th of February 2019 to further unpack these topics. Please feel for to contact either the IWH or MBA to reserve your seat.

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