Employers and their employees all need to be aware of the different types of fall protection equipment you can use to select the correct equipment for working at height.
Despite giant leaps in fall-protection system design & their availability and affordability, falls from height still remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry and any other industry where working at height is normal.
Fall protection equipment is an umbrella term covering three main types of equipment.
- Fall arrest equipment
- Fall restraint equipment
- Fall prevention equipment
In this article, we will look at the use of fall arrest systems and how you can ensure you are compliant.
What are fall arrest systems?
Fall arrest systems are the last step in the hierarchy of fall protection. You should use fall arrest systems when you cannot prevent the risk of a fall by other means such as guardrails or edge protection.
How do fall arrest systems work?
Fall arrest systems are for when a worker has already fallen. They prevent the individual from coming to harm by avoiding the impact from the ground (or lower level)
Fall arrest systems absorb the energy of the impact to prevent injury. The standard equipment for this is lanyards and safety harnesses. If a worker falls, the system will ‘arrest’ or catch the fall, allowing the user to either rescue themselves or be rescued, depending on the situation.
The risk hierarchy states there must always be a rescue plan in place. There are several pieces of legislation regarding the use and maintenance of fall arrest equipment.
BS EN 365:2004 states that you should examine fall arrest equipment ‘at least annually’, although manufacturers often recommend more frequently.
Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 states that it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure fall arrest equipment is in good repair and replace it when necessary.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 maintains that employers regularly inspect equipment used in dangerous situations.
At APS, we provide a range of fall arrest systems. We install The KeeLine safety lifeline system to allow safe access to a roof for maintenance and inspection workers.
The system features our Progressive Absorbing System. If a user falls, the shock absorbers, intermediate brackets, and support posts deploy and deform, reducing the load impact to the building’s structure to below 10Kn.
The working life of fall arrest equipment
The working life of any height safety product is mainly dependent on the product’s condition. The product’s condition will be decided through a thorough inspection, assessment and, where necessary, servicing.
Employers should always inspect the equipment before each use for any flaws. If you find defects in your equipment, you should NOT use it. Make sure A competent person is required to carry out Detailed recorded inspections.
Looking after your equipment
Make sure you regularly inspect your height safety equipment. It is essential to keep it maintained and in good working order.
Height safety standards require periodic examination of your fall arrest equipment, which must not only be carried out at regular intervals but recorded, The duration is often once a year, but it can be shorter intervals.
Employers must carry Pre-use checks out each time equipment is used to ensure the products are in good working order and undamaged. It’s also worth noticing that mechanical devices have additional requirements for servicing.
Examining Your Equipment
The EN 365 standard covers requirements for fall arrest systems. It states that You must complete a detailed inspection and periodic examination of fall protection equipment at least every 12 months by a ‘competent person’. Make sure you check local regulations because this can vary.
We refer to this type of inspection as a visual or recorded inspection. It also includes tactile and functioning checks. According to EN 365, a ‘competent person’ must undertake a periodic examination.
Servicing Your Fall Arrest Equipment
You must schedule regular Servicing for any mechanical devices, such as lifelines. Servicing these involves taking the product apart and replacing any components that need replacing by law. The only persons authorised to conduct servicing are adequately trained persons authorised by the manufacturer.
Time Requirements For Inspections
Fall arrest cable systems: Annually
BMUs and Suspended access equipment: Annually
Abseiling equipment: Every six months
Personal Fall Prevention Equipment (PFPE): Every six months
Building Maintenance Units (BMUs): Every six months
Pre-use checks For Fall Arrest Equipment
Each time you use personal protection equipment (PPE), you must check for damage and wear to make sure it’s safe. Damage checks are usually a visual inspection that the user can carry out.
Instructions supplied with each product will provide detailed information on how to perform these pre-use checks for various equipment.
What is a competent person?
A competent person who can periodically examine fall arrest equipment is someone who can demonstrate:
- Appropriate training,
- Knowledge of the current requirements for inspection,
- Knowledge of the equipment and the manufacturer’s recommendations for assessment,
- Responsibility and resources required to diagnose defects and initiate corrective actions.
APS provide training in how to perform competent person inspections.
The inspection of each type of product varies, with different parts and materials. Some common points for inspection are the stitching of webbing or other fabrics, fall indicators, buckles and connectors. We supply Each product with a user instruction manual which provides information on the inspections to be carried out for that piece of equipment.
Are you compliant?
Regulation 119 sets out the requirements for inspecting work at height work equipment.
Our Facilities Services Department provides annual and 6-monthly recertification for safety systems throughout Scotland.
Our qualified engineers can recertify and provide testing of all types of fall prevention and safe access systems.
Have any more height safety questions? Chat with our friendly team today!