Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest systems can both form crucial parts of your height safety strategy. However, it’s important to appreciate the difference between the two and understand when to use each for optimum safety.
Remember, height safety principles are governed by The Hierarchy of Fall Protection. Fall Arrest and Fall Restraint come under step three: Personal Fall Protection. Ensure you explore steps one and two (Risk Minimisation and Collective Protection) before moving on to these strategies.
Fall Restraint is preferable to Fall Arrest, as it restricts a worker’s access to a fall hazard. Restraint is achieved through use of a harness kit and safe anchorage point. Fall restraint systems allow a team member to go about their work while preventing them from moving to an unsafe point where a fall might occur.
Fall Restraint systems are often suitable if a team member needs to complete a task at the edge of a hazard. For example, during building or maintenance work on a rooftop, a worker may need to be restricted from getting dangerously close to an unprotected edge. Of course, in this situation it would be desirable to have edge protection. However, installing edge protection is not always possible and Fall Restraint can provide an alternative.
In comparison to Fall Restraint, Fall Arrest systems give workers greater mobility and allow them to access a point where a fall is possible. The team member wears a full-body harness and energy absorbing equipment such as a fall arrest block to halt a fall before reaching the ground. Fall Arrest is, therefore, less preferable as it is more likely to cause injury to a worker.
Fall arrest systems must allow for clearance margins and be able to withstand the force of a fall without causing harm to the user.
Comfort and Usability
Successful Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest systems must be comfortable and well-fitted to the user. Poorly fitted harnesses can be unsafe, while compliance is likely to drop if workers find equipment awkward or uncomfortable.
All team members and managers working on tasks requiring fall protection should receive comprehensive training to ensure they can use equipment safely. Training will also instruct workers how to inspect equipment carefully before each job to ensure it is safe to use.
Don’t Forget Your Rescue Plan
A robust fall protection plan will ensure falls are a rare occurrence on your site. However, when using fall arrest systems, it is possible that a fall will occur and leave a worker suspended by their equipment. Therefore, you should invest in a rescue kit and have a rescue plan in place so a person can be safely brought back to the ground.
For all your fall protection requirements and training advice, speak to a member of the HITEGEAR team today on: 0333 234 1801