Fall Energy

Last updated: March 25, 2019

What Does Fall Energy Mean?

Fall energy refers to the energy of a falling object or person.

Specifically, fall energy refers to an object’s gravitational potential energy being converted into kinetic energy as the object under consideration continues to fall.

Safeopedia Explains Fall Energy

An object’s fall energy will continue to increase until it reaches terminal velocity, at which point its fall energy will remain constant for as long as the object continues to fall at its terminal rate. Fall energy is a key measurement used to determine the arresting or impact force of a falling object. The other measurement is the amount of distance required for a system (such as a net) to halt the travel of a falling object.

An understanding of the fall energy that could be experienced by a falling employee is necessary to create a safe fall arrest system. A personal fall arrest system that relies on a simple tether with no shock absorption will result in more fall energy being transferred into the worker than a system that incorporates a personal energy absorber (PEA).

Reducing the fall energy transferred into the worker through use of a PEA will reduce the impact experienced by the worker, thus decreasing the risk of injury. However, reducing the fall energy transferred into the worker also means that more of the fall energy remains within the arrest system, which must therefore be able to withstand a higher impact force.

PEAs are a vital means of decelerating a falling worker safely by reducing the impact force he or she will experience upon fall arrest. A common form of a PEA is “rip stitches,” a segment of line with stitches designed to stretch to a breaking point in the event of a fall, absorbing a defined amount of fall energy in the process.


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