The Selection and Use of Fall Arrest Systems
At SAYFA we manufacture access and fall protection systems and our mission is to bring every worker home safely. This short video provides information on the selection and use of fall arrest harness equipment.
Before we go into too much detail about harness equipment it should be mentioned that this method of fall protection is almost the last in relation to the hierarchy of control and other methods must be considered before using a harness system as a means of fall protection.
When working at height the highest priority of all is to prevent a fall occurring. The risk of this can be substantially lessened by the installation of guardrails and walkways, both of which offer high levels of protection. However in some circumstances these are not practicable and so the use of fall arrest equipment may be necessary.
A fall arrest system is an effective measure against injury resulting from falls from heights. It must be remembered that depending on the way these systems are set up a fall could still occur if not used correctly. However the distance and the speed of the fall is regulated reducing the chance of injury to the operator. It is very important that persons using fall arrest systems are competent in their use as incorrect usage may result in more significant injuries should a fall take place. It must also be mentioned that if a fall occurs it may be necessary to perform a rescue operation and you need to have plans in place should this be required.
When choosing to use a fall arrest system the key consideration is to ensure the anchor can be placed so that the user will be in restraint, rather than fall arrest. Some areas may not allow this to be achieved therefore fall distance must be considered and may change the type and positioning of the anchor system used.
Typically systems only engage once they have become taut so the length of the lanyard is the first factor that must be considered. It is important that excessive slack in the operator’s lanyard is kept to a minimum to ensure effective operation of the system in a fall situation.
All these factors mean that a fall arrest system may not engage until the worker has fallen a distance of approximately 5 to 6 metres, so you must make sure the fall clearance is sufficient for the system to operate effectively.
For example, how tall is the building and are there any hazards in the way such as trucks, trees or other buildings which the operator may collide with in a fall situation?
Finally it is very important that all anchor points that are used in conjunction with these systems are compliant with Australian Standards and have been certified able to withstand a fall situation. The required load for a fall arrest anchor point is 15 kNs which is equivalent of suspending a small motor car from the anchor. It is also critical that the structure to which the anchor is attached has been certified to withstand these loads.
When contemplating work at heights system and the use of a fall arrest system by you, your colleagues or your contractors you must make sure that all of these factors have been considered.
Falls from heights are preventable if systems are designed, installed and used correctly.
Help us to save lives by ensuring that you and your workers are protected at all times.
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