Did you know that there's more than one way to use fall protection? Sure, we talk about fall protection harnesses and roof anchors here a lot, but there are other ways to use fall protection products. I came up with five to be exact. The beauty is that by learning about other fall protection applications, you'll be in a better position to handle and eliminate fall hazards. Find out the applications you may be missing.
Fall Prevention - This processes refers to systems that eliminate the possibility of a fall. Fall prevention is usually handled by guardrails and warning lines. This is also commonly referred to as passive fall protection, as it requires very little effort from the workers.
Fall Restraint - This application is used to keep workers from reaching the edge. There are no guardrails set up. The worker attaches to an anchor point, wears a harness, and uses a non-shock absorbing lanyard that doesn't allow the worker to reach the edge. Imagine a dog on a leash in a yard. This application is very similar to positioning lanyards that allow workers to use both hands. This method does not arrest falls.
Fall Arrest - Fall arrest is the most frequently thought of fall protection application. You have a personal fall protection system that protects you if you fall. In fall arrest, you can reach the edge and potentially fall. This is often referred to as active fall protection because the worker is heavily involved making it work properly. This application has all of your favorite players including roof anchors, safety harnesses, retractables, lanyards, etc...
Suspension - Suspension systems are primarily used for window washers and painters. In a suspension system, workers are suspended in mid-air (usually with a chair or cradle seat). The fall protection keeps them from falling and allows them a hands-free work environment.
Retrieval - The retrieval systems are most commonly used in confined spaces, where workers are lowered into position. These setups can also be used to evacuate employees during an emergency. You'll often see tripods, material winches, and 3 way retractables in use for retrieval systems.
There you have the five basic uses of fall protection. Am I missing any? Which ones do you use most often? Let us know!