Ensuring the safety of your workers when operating at height is hugely important, and this can’t be done successfully without the correct choice of fall protection equipment.
There are many different applications that require fall protection systems, and finding the right equipment for your requirements will make sure that your workers are operating safely and that all risks are minimised.
The hierarchy of fall protection provides safety officers with a starting point for considering what type of equipment is required for the necessary work. The first stage of the hierarchy is to eliminate the risk by avoiding height work when possible – but this is often not a possibility. The second stage is to guard the hazard by installing a guardrail or similar device that will prevent the user from being able to access the drop. Should neither of these methods be possible, then fall protection equipment must be used to provide safety.
Fall protection systems are generally categorised as fall arrest or fall restraint, each of which serve a different safety purpose.
Fall arrest equipment is designed to facilitate the safe stopping of a user who is already falling, preventing a potentially life-threatening impact with the ground.
Other forms of fall protection should be considered before fall arrest as this method is used as a safety measure once a fall is already occurring. The potential for injury in a fall arrest situation is much higher, and therefore poses much more risk to a worker. Measures should first be made to stop a fall from occurring at all, and fall arrest should be supplied as a last choice.
The three main components of a fall arrest system are:
- Fully body harness
- Shock absorbing lanyard or lifeline
- Secure anchor
This equipment should be inspected and installed by a qualified professional, and all workers using the equipment should be trained. These systems are required to be used in any work at height situation with a vertical drop of 6 feet or more, and when the worker cannot be protected by any other height safety means.
Only retractable lifelines or full-body harnesses with shock-absorbing lanyards should be used for a fall arrester. Full-body harnesses will distribute forces throughout the workers’ body, while shock-absorbing lanyards decrease total fall arresting forces, ensuring no injury to the user takes place during the arrest. Retractable blocks are a safe choice as these can be easily retracted to return the user to a safe area.
A fall restraint system is a more recommended solution, as this will prevent a fall from occurring and therefore poses a much lower risk to the user. Fall restraint systems are also referred to as ‘work restraint systems’.
Typically, a fall restraint system requires very little intervention from the worker; it simply works as a safety tool that attaches the user to the anchorage point and doesn’t allow them to move further than a certain distance.
A fall restraint system includes:
- Safety harness
- Fixed length lanyard (length depending on requirements)
- Suitable anchorage point
Selecting the correct equipment is vitally important and will depend entirely on your own requirements. Different models will be suitable for use in different applications, therefore it is important to check the conformance and maximum weight capacity required for the task at hand.
Other devices that are vital for ensuring work at height safety are rope grabs, pulleys and davits. Each of these accessories work to make the operation smoother and provide a safer way of working for the user.
Here at Rockall, we have a wide variety of carabiners available to ensure secure attachment between devices. Our variety includes twist lock, snap hook and screwgate fastenings, offering the right design for a huge selection of work requirements.
If you need more information or you have any enquiries, our friendly account managers are here to help, offering numerous services such as product hire, maintenance and even training courses. Simply contact us on 0845 3300 447 or email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Laura Dronfield