Fall arrest, fall restraint & fall prevention

What IS the difference?

When ensuring correct system selection, it is vital to understand working at heights terminology. Below is a a simple explanation of these three different terms which are used extensively in the height safety industry.  It is very important to follow the HIERARCHY OF CONTROL which can be defined as:

  1. Eliminate the risk by undertaking the work at ground level or from a solid construction.
  2. Substitute the means of performing the work to a safe zone.
  3. Isolate the hazard by providing a barrier or fence.
  4. Engineer the risk by using a control measure such as a fall arrest system.
  5. Administer the risk by using signage, line marking and operational instructions.

Hierarchy of Control for Working at Heights

Fall prevention

Sentry guardrail and Pace600 walkway

According to the HIERARCHY OF CONTROL, fall prevention is the highest form of fall protection. This removes the risk of the worker falling by providing a barrier between them and the fall hazard. Guardrails and skylight protectors are examples of the types of equipment that fall into this category.

This method requires the least amount of operator competence for working at heights. Find out more about the different forms of fall protection.


Fall restraint

fall restrain by 3sixty anchor point

Fall restraint systems restrict the movement of the worker in reaching the fall edge. The lanyard is typically a fixed length that does not extend past the fall edge and it effectively acts like a leash preventing a fall arrest situation from occurring. This method is dependent on correct operator use, especially if an adjustable length lanyard is being used.

User competency and system training are essential when using fall arrest equipment. Static lines and anchors are commonly used as fall restraint systems.

It is important that anchorages and support structures are fall arrest rated (15 kN) even if the system is used as a restraint system.


Fall arrest

raptor rigid rail for fall arrest

As its name suggests, fall arrest systems arrest the fall of a worker once it has occurred. They do not prevent the worker from falling and have the highest potential for injury. A rescue plan must be in place prior to any person using the fall arrest device.

In the hierarchy of control this form of protection is the least favourable, however is still a useful option when other means are not practicable.

Overhead rigid rail systems and roof anchors are often used for fall arrest applications.


For further information view our video - Selecting fall arrest equipment.



Want more information of the different types of systems available to you? Contact the team at SAYFA on 1300 301 755 or [email protected] and one of our helpful representatives will give you the advice you need.