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Fall Restraint vs Fall Arrest

Last updated: 20/04/2021

This blog has been created in partnership with XSPlatforms and aims to provide clients with accurate information on height safety to showcase the impact it can have on health and safety within the workplace. It is an employer’s legal responsibility to ensure personnel are protected while carrying out Work at Height. In this article, we aim to educate and inform you on the best method of Fall Protection for any given situation.


Fall Restraint or Fall Arrest?

There are two main types of Fall Protection configurations to protect operatives that are Working at Height. These are:

  • Fall Restraint Systems
  • Fall Arrest Systems

When using either of these Fall Protection Systems, personnel must wear a safety harness that connects them to the Safety Line via a lanyard. The versatility of this solution allows operatives to easily connect or disconnect from the system.

The end-user of the system must have the proper knowledge on how to use a Fall Arrest and a Fall Restraint Safety Line, as it could make a significant difference when it comes to preventing serious injury.


Fall Restraint

A Fall Restraint solution is a method of Fall Protection that prevents users from reaching an area where a fall could occur. When using this system, movement is restricted, which greatly reduces the risk of an accident. For example, if an operative is using this solution, they can reach the roof’s edge, but they cannot fall over the edge as the system restrains the user from doing so.

With a Fall Restraint solution, the length of the lanyard is very important. This is because the length is based on the distance between the anchorage point of the system and the roof’s edge. Heightsafe recommends that users equip themselves with a fixed-length lanyard (usually greater than 2 metres), as it is the safest option when using this solution.

For situations where the distance to the roof’s edge is limited, Heightsafe recommends an adjustable lanyard. This is because the operative using the system can manually adjust the lanyard to a length of their choosing. This solution is more versatile than a fixed-length lanyard, but an adjustable lanyard also carries a greater risk due to an increased possibility of human error, and in turn, this means the adjusted length may not prevent the user from falling over the roof’s edge.

To ensure maximum safety when an error occurs, adjustable lanyards can be equipped with an integrated shock absorber, which minimises the impact of a fall on the body of the user.


Fall Arrest

If your building does not benefit from a Fall Restraint System, a Fall Arrest System may be more suitable. This solution protects the user by stopping a fall if one occurs. In turn, this could prevent the user from hitting a lower level, or an object that is below. To put it simply, an operative that uses this system can still fall over the roof’s edge, but the system locks in a similar way to a car seatbelt and prevents the user from falling any further than a couple of metres.

Fall Arrest Systems also require the use of additional safety equipment. An example of this is an Energy Absorber, which must be used to limit the impact on a user’s body in the event of a fall from height. As a result, the shock on the body of the user and the structure is absorbed through this solution.


Sharp Edges

When using a Fall Restraint or Fall Arrest solution, you also need to consider the sharp edges that you are working near. The edges that a traditional lanyard passes over could tear the material that is a part of the system that is being used, which can pose a greater risk to the user. Bespoke lanyards are circulating on the market to prevent tears by sharp edges. These lanyards are made of specially designed materials and are tested to withstand sharp edges. As a result, this can prevent serious injury.


Work Positioning

The final method to consider when it comes to Fall Protection is Work Positioning. This type of Fall Protection lanyard allows users to keep their hands free, which allows them to carry on working without a distraction. Work Positioning is most often applied for people Working at Height vertically, for example on telephone poles or in confined spaces.


Do You Require a Fall Protection Solution?

Contact one of Heightsafe’s specialists today for a free consultation and quote either online or by phone on 020 3819 7199

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