General Fall Arrest System

Definition - What does General Fall Arrest System mean?

A general fall arrest system, also called a passive fall arrest system, is a fall protection system designed to arrest the fall of any worker who falls within a certain area.

Most general fall arrest systems are safety nets and may be contrasted with personal fall arrest systems, which are the most common form of fall arrest system used in workplaces.

Safeopedia explains General Fall Arrest System

All major occupational health and safety agencies have regulations that require the use of fall protection systems above a certain limit. In the United States, general industry workers must receive fall protection when working above four feet. The use of a general fall arrest system, such as cushioned floor mats, may be used at lower heights such as this. Safety net systems are generally employed in construction work that occurs at much greater heights.

A safety net system is often used when the nature of the construction work makes a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) less practical. This may also be used because of a different benefit, such as the fact that it's easier to rescue a fallen worker from a net than from a PFAS. The risks associated with a worker falling onto a net from height must be weighed against the risks associated with the use of a PFAS—such as suspension trauma—when determining an ideal solution.

Workplace use of a safety net system must comply with several standards. For example, because safety nets are only a reliable source of protection if installed correctly, OSHA requires employers to perform drop tests after the net has been installed on the job site. Such installations are also subject to specific considerations that require the outer edge of the net to be a minimum horizontal distance from the edge of the working surface. If a worker could fall up to five feet from the work surface, the outer edge of the net must extend at least eight feet from the work surface, increasing to 10 feet for falls between five and 10 feet, and increasing again to 13 feet for falls higher than 10 feet.

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