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Fall Arrest Systems vs. Fall Restraint Systems

According to the HSE, the main cause of fatal accidents in the workplace in 2021 was falling from a height. The legislation states that employers have a responsibility to prevent death and injury caused by workplace falls, including ensuring that any work at height is properly planned out and is only carried out by qualified personnel.



Safety straps


Common Causes of Workplace Falls

The most common reasons for workplace falls to occur include:


● Impaired vision

● Electric shock

● Lack of safety training

● Poor weather conditions

● Employee not paying attention / getting distracted

● Fatigue

● Medical episodes

● Unstable structures

● Vertigo


Although there are measures that employers can implement to reduce the likelihood of falls, the reality is that - just like any other workplace injury - it’s virtually impossible to prevent every single possible scenario from occurring. For example, in the case of medical episodes, the employee might have no prior history of illness - it couldn’t have been predicted even if your workplace carries out regular health screenings.


With this in mind, the focus should be on reducing the chances of injury if such a situation was to occur, especially if all other safety risks have been minimised as much as possible. One way that businesses can do this is to incorporate fall restraint and fall arrest systems into their safety equipment.


Fall Restraint Systems

Fall restraint systems act as the first line of defence for anyone working at height. It involves physically anchoring the individual to a stable structure via a lanyard or harness. Individuals who have previously worked with fall restraint systems liken it to being a dog on a lead, as they are restricted from going too close to the edge of the structure - they are literally “restrained” from the hazard.


When using a fall restraint system, it’s rare that a fall will still occur, and if it did the individual would not fall as far or as fast, significantly reducing the chance of being seriously injured. In most cases, the individual would simply be able to stand back up again.


Fall restraint systems also benefit from being cost-effective, having customisable components and requiring minimal maintenance.


Fall Arrest Systems

Fall arrest systems are considered to be a last resort as they are only designed to work once a fall is happening, rather than working to prevent the fall in the first place. Whilst it’s always ideal to opt for the latter, it’s not always possible to create an anchor point through which this can happen. This is most common when working on top of moveable structures, such as those within the rail industry.


A harness is attached to an overhead system that allows the individual to be rescued, or even to perform a self-rescue in the event of a fall. The harness will also immediately tighten up to minimise the risk of the incident escalating further.


Reliable Safety Line Systems

No matter how safe you think your site is, accidents still do happen and can’t always be predicted. Make sure that your workplace is always prepared in the event of a fall with high-quality height safety equipment from Crane & Lifting Services Ltd. Our team of lifting equipment experts are fully equipped to provide you with tailored guidance on how to best protect your employees. Please get in touch for more information.

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