Fall arrest system is a system that protects the worker who is already in the process of falling by stopping the fall after it has happened.
This system is used only where there is a risk of free fall from height.
It is generally grouped into two (2):
Types of fall arrest system
- General fall arrest system, e.g Fall Net
- Personal fall arrest system (PFAS), e.g Body harness.
Read Also: Working at height safety procedures
General fall arrest system
It is also called passive fall arrest system.
This type of system is installed for general use (Not conditioned for one person). It is fixed where personal fall arrest system is impracticable or as an additional protective system. A typical example as mentioned earlier is the fall net also called catch platform, safety net, etc.
This type of system must be installed by a competent person and tested before certified for use.
For the safety net, the test mostly done is called “The drop test”. This test is used to check if the safety net is capable of carrying a 75kg man. It is done by dropping 400 pound bag of sand into the net; you can read up the drop test procedure.
This is also called “Active fall arrest system”. The elements of the PFAS referred to as ABCDs of Fall Arrest are:
A – Anchorage
B – Body Wear
C – Connector
D – Deceleration Device
E – Emergency Plan & Equipment
According to OSHA, fall protection systems must be “capable of supporting at least 5,000 lb (22 kN) per employee attached” or be part of a complete system designed by a qualified person that maintains a safety factor of at least two.
Read Also: Working at height risk assessment
The active fall protection system should be designed by a qualified and experienced person and include an analysis of the supporting structure.
Inspection of the fall protection system
All fall protection systems both active and passive should be subjected to routine inspection. Inspection must be done by a trained and competent personnel. This is important to keep them in a good state to avoid failing while in use.
Need for training
All workers exposed to falls should be trained by a competent person to recognize fall hazards and be familiar with available control methods and equipment.
Also they should be trained on the use of the fall protection equipment; especially the PFAS. PFAS used wrongly, is equivalent to not using at all.
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