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Fall Arrest System

Last updated: February 3, 2019

What Does Fall Arrest System Mean?

A fall arrest system is a system that is designed to halt the fall of a falling worker.

The two types of fall arrest systems are general fall arrest systems, such as netting, and personal fall arrest systems, such as lifelines.

Safeopedia Explains Fall Arrest System

A fall arrest system is the last line of defense for workers whose duties expose them to fall hazards. Other means of fall protection include preventative measures such as fall-hazard-warning signage, protective barriers such as guardrails, and personal restraints that prevent falls from taking place.

The elements of a personal fall arrest system are a suitable body-holding device such as a harness, a fall-energy-absorbing element, an anchor line, an anchor point, connector equipment, and lanyards.

Fall hazards are a major source of occupational injury and death. As a result, every jurisdiction with a developed occupational safety program requires fall arrest systems for workers at height who are not sufficiently protected by a barrier, restraint, or other protective apparatus. In most jurisdictions, such as the European Union, working at height requires a risk assessment to determine the level and type of protection that is needed.

Although the term “fall arrest system” refers to both general fall arrest systems and personal fall arrest systems, when used without specification the term typically refers to personal fall arrest systems. In order for either system to be effective, it must be properly anchored. A common requirement used in many jurisdictions, such as the United States, is that an anchor be able to withstand at least twice the impact force of a falling worker.

A fallen worker who is being suspended by a personal fall protection system should not necessarily be considered safe from harm. Workers in this situation can suffer from suspension trauma, a potentially fatal condition caused by the increased pressure placed on the heart by vertical suspension. Suspended workers should be rescued in less than 10 minutes and gradually brought to a horizontal position in order to avoid potential cardiac arrest.


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