Fall protection systems are essential for any business requiring its employees to work at height. It is a safety measure implemented to reduce the chances of severe injury or death in the event of a fall from a height.
To understand fall protection systems and their importance, it is vital to know the various types of fall protection systems, the considerations when designing a height safety system, and the benefits of using the correct equipment for whatever the job requires. In addition, you must have your equipment regularly inspected, maintained and recertified.
Once you know the different potential systems for your safety solution and have carried out the proper risk assessment, you’ll be able to decide on the safest course of action and develop a rescue plan should a fall happen.
Fall Elimination Strategies
Eliminating the need for working at height altogether is the preferred height safety solution, derived during the risk assessment stage of a plan and utilising the Hierarchy of Control, a strategy used by all of our Highwire installers and estimators. An example of risk elimination would be moving rooftop plant machinery, such as air conditioning units, to ground level, thus enabling maintenance work to be carried out without the need to work on top of a roof.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to eliminate the need to work at height, so by following the Hierarchy of Control, we work with you to determine what roof safety system is right for you.
Which Fall Protection Equipment Is Best for Your Project?
All fall protection solutions are categorised into either personal or collective fall protection.
Fall protection is a crucial safety measure for any project, and choosing which type of fall protection equipment to use depends on the type of project you undertake.
Personal Fall protection systems focus more on Fall Arrest and Fall Restraint, while Collective protection looks at Fall Prevention and Fall Elimination. There are crossovers between the various systems, however.
Fall prevention seeks to prevent falls by focusing on designing work areas or tasks correctly to avoid accidents from happening in the first place.
For some jobs, you may not even need direct safe access to dangerous areas like narrow ledges, building facades, or areas with fragile surfaces in the first place. The first rule of working at height is don’t – unless you have no choice!
All projects will have different requirements that dictate what fall protection should be used for the overall safety of your workforce.
Fall Prevention Systems
The first step in creating an effective fall protection system is prevention.
These strategies focus on preventing falls before they occur. A common preventative strategy is guardrails, such as Kee Guard, which are either fixed or freestanding barriers that surround open areas of floors and roofs with hazardous edges.
Guardrail systems such as Kee Safety’s Kee Guard, are the first choice in fall protection systems above any other roof safety system. They are collective protection and act as a physical barrier to prevent falls from heights and keep workers safe while they’re working on the roof without the need for training.
Additionally, guardrails are typically very easy to install. They can be customised to fit the layout of your roof, making them a cost-effective way to ensure safety on your property.
Another way of preventing falls is by using fall restraint systems.
These are often combinations of personal protective equipment (PPE) and anchor points, which provide secure connection points for safety equipment such as harnesses and lanyards.
Lifeline systems can also be used, which involve connecting one end of a rope or cable to an anchor point and the other to a worker’s body harness that allows users to move freely while providing enough tension to prevent them from reaching the edge.
Types of Fall Arrest System
In addition to prevention systems, fall arrest systems are designed to stop workers who have already begun falling from heights by slowing their rate of descent or arresting their fall altogether.
This can be accomplished through shock-absorbing equipment such as the Kee Line safety lifeline anchor posts or arrestor blocks that attach directly to the user’s D ring of their safety harness.
Fall arrest equipment
Most fall arrest systems are typically combinations of PPE, such as harnesses and lanyards attached to anchors/lifelines; in this case, if someone falls off a roof or platform, they will be caught by their harness/lanyard before plummeting below.
In the event of any fall, you must have the appropriate rescue equipment on-site to respond immediately. While fall arrest equipment is designed with shock-absorbing capabilities, the forces applied in a fall can still cause a lot of strain on the body.
The strain on the body increases the longer a person is left hanging in their protective harness, so a rescue strategy should always be part of any fall protection strategy.
Recertifying Your Fall Protection Systems
Fall safety is imperative for ensuring safe working conditions for employees. All Fall Safety systems must legally be recertified in accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare Act at Work Regulation 2007.
Highwire staff are fully accredited to deliver a comprehensive range of inspection and certification services to ensure your installation is fully compliant with the latest regulations and, most important, ready for you, your staff and your contractors to use in safety.
At Highwire, we can offer a comprehensive inspection and recertification service for all of your fall protection equipment, including:
- Height Safety Cable Systems
- Height Safety Anchor Points
- Bespoke Structural Fixings
- Permanent Access Ladders
- Fixed & Free Standing Guardrails
- Step-over Units
- Rooflight Protection Covers
- Abseiling Track Systems, Davits & Anchor Points
- Confined Space Solutions
- Roof-top Demarcation Systems
- Maintenance and Service of Flagpoles
- Fixed Bolt Testing on Totems
- Visual Inspections of staircases
Protect Your Workers & Your Business
Fall protection is essential for any business that requires employees to work at heights, as it reduces the chances of serious injury or death in the event of a fall from heights.
Understanding all aspects of fall protection is key for any business looking for ways to keep employees safe while working at heights.
Always ensure your workers are safe by having the right equipment in place, fully serviced and maintained.
Contact our team today…