Fall Arrest Systems vs. Fall Restraint Systems

March 09 2017 0comment

Fall Arrest Systems vs. Fall Restraint Systems

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Our team of experts here at D-marc is always on the lookout for useful information so that our readers are fully informed on all aspects of working at height, including roofing work.  Obviously, when regular maintenance is necessary on a roof, then using a freestanding demarcation barrier is the safest choice.  However, we also have information on our website on the Ascent Access Systems which include a range of fall protection posts that can be permanently installed on a roof to allow the use of a cable passed fall protection system or a rail based fall protection system.  Today, we’re going to take a look at the difference between fall arrest and fall restraint, both of which are classed as Personal Fall Protection systems.

Fall Restraint Systems – these use a body holding device to prevent a worker from falling.  They must be connected to a suitable anchor and prevent the user from reaching areas where there is a risk of a fall.  In the Hierarchy of Control, fall restraint is preferable to fall arrest.  Compared with a Fall Arrest System, a Fall Restraint System is simpler to use and does not require a rescue plan to be in place, so it is much more likely that a Fall Restraint System will be used.

Fall Arrest Systems – these are designed to protect a worker after they fall by stopping the fall before the worker hits the ground (or other surface).  These systems also use a body holding device and must be connected to a reliable anchor point.  A fall arrest system will stop and restrict the fall, preventing the user from colliding with the ground (or nearby structures) whilst limiting the force on the body.  A fall arrest system should be used when working near a fragile surface, on a narrow ledge or on an unusual building or roof shape and are used with lanyards or ropes.  The use of a fall arrest system combined with the personal protective equipment (PPE) legally requires that a comprehensive rescue plan is in place.  Workers using this type of system will been additional training.

We’ve come up with a handy table that you can use to compare both systems:

 

FALL ARREST

FALL RESTRAINT

PROTECTS BY:

Stops a fall that is in progress through a tie off system

Prevents workers from reaching a fall hazard through a tie off system

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED

Custom installed equipment

Custom installed equipment

TRAINING REQUIRED

Extensive training required with regular follow-up training

Extensive training required with regular follow-up training

INSPECTION

Must be inspected and maintained before and after every use

Must be inspected and maintained before and after every use

POTENTIAL FOR INJURY

High

Mild

BURDEN TO LABOURER

Must inspect equipment and ensure that it is worn correctly

Must inspect equipment and ensure that it is worn correctly

EU DIRECTIVE PREFERENCE

Only use as a last resort

Better than a Fall Arrest System

EXAMPLE PRODUCT

A harness and retractable lanyard tied off to a fixed anchor point

A harness and lanyard tied off at a set length from a weighted tie off point

COSTS

Low initial cost but hidden costs include training, equipment maintenance and setup time

Low initial cost but hidden costs include training, equipment maintenance and setup time

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