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Intro to Fall Protection


Fall protection is defined as a planned system used to protect a worker from death or potential injury in the event they would lose their balance while performing a task at height.

PERSONAL fALL PROTECTION: A Historical Perspective

The use of personal fall protection can be traced back hundreds of years. In its earliest form, fall protection consisted of workers using ropes with knots tied around other worker’s waists. Riggers on large sailing ships would climb the ship’s masts and use ropes to protect themselves in the event they would fall. Early mining operations would use ropes as miners descended into mine shafts. Ropes were also commonly used during the construction of churches and radio towers. Old paintings and photographs are evidence of the role ropes played in the earliest forms of personal fall protection. Even though the idea of protecting workers from falls has been around for some time, regulated fall protection in the form we know it today is a recent evolution that has taken place over just the past 60 years.

Classifying Falls

For the purpose of statistics and record keeping, falls are classified into one of the following three categories. Slips and trips, falls on stairs, and falls to a lower level.

Rigid Lifelines® designs optimized systems to protect workers from falls to a lower level.

PERSONAL Fall Protection Approaches

The term fall protection is an umbrella term that encompasses two types of systems, systems that are designed to arrest a free fall, and systems that are designed to restrain a worker in a position to prevent him from reaching a fall hazard.

Rigid Lifelines® engineers, manufactures, or distributes both fall arrest and fall restraint systems.

Passive and Active Fall Protection Systems

Fall protection systems can be passive or active. A passive system might be a railing or netting system and an active system requires the participation of a person in order for the system to be utilized properly. Active fall protection systems are commonly referred to as Personal Fall Protection Systems.

There are three common types of Personal Fall Protection Systems.

  1. Immovable Point Fall Protection - A personal fall protection system that is fixed to a permanent point.
  2. Vertical Fall Protection - A personal fall protection system that allows a worker to latch onto a vertical set-up.
  3. Horizontal Fall Protection - A personal fall protection system that is designed as either flexible or inflexible and provides protection horizontally.

Rigid Lifelines® engineers and manufactures rigid horizontal fall protection systems.

The ABCD’s of PERSONAL Fall Protection

Fall protection systems are made up of four key parts.

  1. Anchorage - the attachment point that is intended to resist forces generated during a fall arrest or fall restraint event.
  2. Body Harness - a body support designed to contain the human torso and distribute fall arrest forces evenly across the body, including the thighs, pelvis, chest, and shoulders.
  3. Connector - defines an independent system component, like a carabiner, or defines an element of another system component, such as a buckle or D-ring on a harness or lanyard.
  4. Deceleration Device - designed to absorb energy and lessen the forces generated during a fall, a self-retracting lanyard (SRL) or shock pack lanyard would be examples.

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