Today, it is mandatory for every workplace to have some kind of fall protection system in place so that workers can do their job safely. Working at heights requires safety gear, which is necessary to prevent falls. Solutions such as guardrails and barriers do not cut it anymore and this is why most buildings are investing in “Fall Protection Systems”.
The two most popular systems are fall arrest and fall restraint protection, which include fixed fall arrest anchors, horizontal lifelines and portable anchor points.
Here are both systems explained briefly:
A fall restrain system prevents the person from falling. The body holding device is connected to an anchor fixed on the roof. This prevents you from coming close to risk zones.
A fall arrest system protects you if you do fall. The connectors stops you from hitting the surface after the fall and the body holding device stops your momentum before you collide with the building.
According to the department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under United States Department of Labor, employers must provide adequate fall safety for employees on platforms or floors that are 4 feet above the ground. In construction companies, the height at which safety must be provided in the form of fall arrest anchors is 6 feet.
Last but not the least, when employees are working with dangerous machinery or equipment, fall safety must be provided at all times.
So, which system is better?
Here’s a comparison table that will help you decide:
|Fall Arrest||Fall Restraint|
|Protection||Stops the fall by halting it in mid air through a system of ties.|| |
Prevents the fall through a system that ties the person from body anchors to roof top anchors.
|Potential for Injury||High||Mild|
|Needed Equipment|| |
Custom (fall arrest anchors and ropes). Also includes lanyards that are shock absorbing.
|Custom (fall arrest anchors and fall arrest blocks). Includes standard lanyards.|
|Training||Extensive training needed.||Extensive training needed.|
Must be inspected after and before every use.
|Must be inspected after and before every use.|
Lower initial costs. Additional costs: Training, maintenance and upgrades.
|Lower initial costs. Additional costs: Training, maintenance and upgrades.|
|Worker Safety|| |
Must inspect properly and make sure that the equipment is a tight fit.
|Must inspect properly and make sure that the equipment is a tight fit.|
|OSHA Directive|| |
Fall arrest anchors need to meet OSHA’s safety and quality criteria. Although this system can be used in construction buildings, they are not recommended to be used in areas that are higher than the standard height.
|Better option than fall arrest.|
Fixed lifeline, free standing lifeline, dead weight anchor, harness, anchorages, lanyards (shock absorbing) and fall arrest blocks.
|Fixed lifeline, free standing lifeline, dead weight anchor, harness, anchorages, ropes and lanyards.|
Before installing fall arrest anchors or considering the anchorages, it is important to map out the building and discover the weak points. This will help you decide, which protection system to invest in.