How to Choose the Right Fall Protection for Your Next Job

Whenever starting a new project, regardless of the size, a risk assessment is required to determine fall risks and other safety concerns. Some projects will require more in the way of an effective fall arrest system, such as harnesses or line systems, and must be determined prior to the worker starting.

There are factors to consider when assessing the right type of system required. For example, you will need to consider height, space limitations, as well as the type of work that is being undertaken.

The majority of fall arrest systems are customizable to fit most applications, specific or general. Regardless, the system does not start to work unless the worker falls, and it must be in place at all times.

Without a safety system in place, the consequences of a fall can be devastating not only to the worker but also to the company in the event that something happens.

What are the most common fall protection solutions?

Depending on the work required, there are different types of solutions that are available to you, including the following:

  • Guardrails: A simple but effective method to prevent falls from a relatively short distance. This forms a barrier between the edge and the worker.
  • Fall Restriction System: This is a combination of the worker’s positioning system and a fall arrest system, such as a lineman pole climbing belt.
  • Fall Arrest System: A system that is designed to stop and slow a worker’s fall by limiting the fall to a certain distance, and using a shock absorber system.
  • Travel Restraint System: With a combination of a lanyard, lifeline, and a belt or harness, this system prevents the worker from getting too close to the unprotected edge.

Factors to Consider While Choosing a Fall Protection Solution

When assessing the work site and determining the most effective fall arrest system required, there are certain criteria that need to be considered.

Start by looking at your options. How high up will the worker be? Would a guardrail or a travel system be the most effective? How much space do you have? How many people are required to be there at the same time?

As well, look at the area and the space it covers. Maybe a travel system would prove beneficial instead of a guard rail or hoist. Consider if the safety system needs to be in a permanent place for the duration of the project, or if it needs to be portable and therefore cover multiple areas.

How many workers will be in the same area, and do they need to pass each other in order to perform their job? This will help to further narrow down the type of fall arrest system you need. 

By assessing the area, you can understand your options and make the right decision based on your needs. Make sure to also have a rescue plan in place before work begins.

Next, you will need to consider the building itself and how you determine the safe anchor point for your fall arrest system.

For a successful system to be in place, there are multiple factors that all work together at once. This includes everything from the harness and belts that attach to the worker, to the cradles or lifts that are permanently affixed to the structure (either to structural beams or a flat rooftop, for example).

The right solution will prove effective and safe. The wrong decision, however, could be costly.

How to Choose the Right Fall Protection Solution for Your Building

Always go into a new project with a plan of action. Look at the building plans and the work to develop a safe and compliant method for fall prevention and arrest.

You will need to calculate the coverage required for the worker and the equipment. This involves working out the length, height, and width of the area. Take into consideration that most anchor track systems allow the worker to be 30 degrees off center.

Fall prevention and fall arrest systems are similar and yet different. Prevention systems are designed to stop a fall, whereas arrest systems are made to slow and then stop a fall. Making sure that you have the right one on the site can save lives.

Make certain that you have the right safety equipment for the job, and then ensure proper training is provided for the workers who will be using it. New products and improvements are appearing on the market all the time, thus ensuring you have the most up-to-date safety equipment to benefit your project and the workers using it.

Ensure that you are also up to date with all current regulations and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) guidelines, as these change on a regular basis. What applied last year might not necessarily apply again this year. Everything changes and is updated to ensure that the safety of the worker is paramount.

Safety is Everything

Making sure your workers are safe and that the project can be completed on time is at the heart of all business.

Whether you use an arrest system or a prevention system, ensuring you have a plan in place, and you keep up to date with all regulations and changes, will be the difference between a successful completion or a sudden and costly end.

It is also key to remember to stay current with the annual fall protection inspections. Not only do these provide updates on regulation and guideline changes, but they also inspect the safety equipment.

Allowing you to discover any issues or faulty equipment that needs to be replaced can save lives before it’s used. These inspections are vital to include in your fall protection plan, alongside the evaluation of the site and building, and fall rescue plan.


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