The Differences Between Fall Arrest & Fall Restraint

The Differences Between Fall Arrest & Fall Restraint

Fall Arrest vs Fall Restraint

Fall Arrest vs Fall Restraint

Fall restraint and fall arrest systems are very similar but have one significant difference between them. If the outcome is mistaken, it may be catastrophic. What’s the main difference between fall arrest and fall restraint?

A fall arrest system will keep you from falling, while a fall restraint system will prevent you from touching the edge, not allowing you to fall. Both systems are types of active fall defence but have very different uses for real-life applications. Let’s delve a bit deeper into what that entails.

What is a Fall Arrest System?

fall arrest

A fall arrest safety system usually involves an anchor point or a number of anchor points, a safety lanyard or a self-retracting lifeline, and a belt. This mechanism must be built to “rest” or stop you from reaching the lower surface in the event of a fall. This gives you the right to walk all the way to a fall risk to do your job.

As an example, let’s assume you’re unloading a flatbed truck or working on a railcar, your walking or working surface may be so narrow that any device that doesn’t allow you near the edge will restrict your movement. If you need complete access to your work surface, fall arrest is generally the best option to go for.

A great example of how powerful fall arrest systems are is the ascent and descent of a fixed ladder. There is no way of absolutely removing the risk of falling while ascending a ladder. In this situation, the protection mechanism that is set in place must be able to catch you in the event of a slip or fall.

What is A Fall Restraint System?

fall restraint

RGL5 (Single Leg Webbing Restraint Lanyard)

Although using several of the same features, the fall restraint protection system prevents you from getting close enough to the fall threat. Imagine a leash that keeps you at a safe distance from the edge. You’re free to do your job without thinking about falling and potentially hurting yourself because you’re unable to reach the drop.

An anchor point, some kind of lanyard, and adequate Personal Protective Equipment or PPE are also used in fall restraint systems, which would be a safety belt in this situation. These systems are perfect when you have wide open-rooftops or platforms without any work to do in the vicinity of the fall threat. The threat may be the skylight, the unprotected roof hatch or the edge of the building/platform.

What Makes The Fall Restraint And Fall Arrest Systems Active Fall Protection?

fall protection

Regardless of the use of the fall arrest system or fall restraint system, all are classified under active fall safety systems to give fall protection to the wearer.

Active fall protection systems allow you, the user, to connect safely with the system. Examples of this will be the attachment to a horizontal lifeline, the clipping to an anchor point, and the use of a safety ladder during climbing. You need to ensure you have fall restraint systems and a fall protection system in place in order to be safe when working at heights.

The protections systems mean the worker will be restrained and prevented from reaching a fall hazard. When working at height, arrest equipment prevents workers from personal fall, injury and loss of life. Arrest equipment is not a 100% guarantee that workers will be safe however there are things that need to be implemented alongside just having a body harness, guide ropes and lanyards so you don’t end up with a rescue emergency, especially in a resume situation.

Important Tips

Use your equipment as a type of leash by ensuring workers are attached to a fixed length lanyard to prevent the worker from reaching the edge or height that could lead to them falling or injuring themselves. Always do checks on your equipment to ensure your worker is safe before and after each use of the equipment you use when they’re working at height. It’s also an important idea to have a rescue plan in place in case the harness fails, someone falls off a roof etc and you need to stop them and resume them. You should provide the details of your rescue plans with your workers to ensure they know what to do in the case of an emergency.

Which is The Safest, Fall Restraint Systems or Fall Arrest Systems?

There are several cases under which you are required to use fall arrest or fall restraint. However, in a situation where you can choose between the two, which is the more secure option?

Working in a position that reduces the potential to fall would often be a better option. If the conditions allow, operating in the fall restraint system is often preferred. It is not because of the lack of fall protection and engineering incorporated into the fall arrest system, but because of the potential for accidents that may occur during the arrest process.

Falling hurts, no matter what fall protection measures are put in place or equipment you provide access to. The truth is that the fall is unpredictable. You could fall backwards off a roor, forwards, trip, slide, be twisted in a knot, or jump! Any spinning, swinging or landing will cause injury to your worker due to the hundreds of pounds of force that affect our body.

It is imperative that you always stay up to date with your fall protection while working at heights (like on a roof) – failing to do so puts your worker at risk. You must have a clear and relaxed understanding of all facets of the active fall safety system, from the anchor point to the harness. It’s also critical to always have a rescue plan in place if you’re using a fall arrest method.

Both fall arrest and fall restraint devices have their use at the workplace. Fall arrest systems can save your life, but there is no guarantee that the fall protection will result in you being completely uninjured. Fall restraint will restrict mobility, but it is likely to reduce the risk of injury. If you have the choice, always choose the option that will eliminate you from reaching the threat but it is a protection that you must put in place and you must maintain within the workplace.

These systems have been used by companies big and small to provide a fall protection system to their workers. In some instances, if the fall hazard equipment had not been used, many lives would have been lost. If all of those who helped construct the brooklyn bridge had used fall hazard systems there would have been fewer injuries and deaths so we have to thank ourselves lucky that we have access to this wonderful equipment so we can work, grow, expand and create bigger and better but also safely.



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