Shannahan Crane & Hoist

Top Tips on How to Choose the Best Fall Arrest System for Your Workplace

Did you know there were over 1.17 million nonfatal work-related injuries in 2020? That means that more work-related injuries were also fatal.

Taking workplace safety seriously can mean the difference between someone hurting themselves in a minor way, not hurting themselves at all, or getting in an accident that may end up fatal.

One of the ways that you can make sure that you are ensuring workplace safety is by making sure you choose the best fall arrest system on the market. If you’re not sure how to choose the best fall protection equipment, keep reading this guide. We walk you through some top tips on how to choose the best fall arrest system for your workplace!

Most Common Workplace Fall Incidents

Not all workplace falls are created equally. One person may fall because of something silly, while someone else may fall because of something more serious. Here are the most common workplace fall incidents:

  • Equipment malfunctions
  • Weather conditions that can cause slips and falls like rain or snow and even ice
  • Slips and trips caused by poor lighting, bad footing, hazardous floor conditions, and more
  • Collapsing structures like buildings or scaffolding
  • Poor decisions, such as operating outside of safety regulations
  • Improper use of equipment 

Knowing this, there are things you can do to prevent falls in the workplace.

Before You Choose the Fall Arrest System

There are a few things you have to do around the workplace before you can even choose the best fall arrest system. Here is what you need to do.

Remove Hazards

The first thing you need to do before you even choose a fall arrest system is to remove hazards. If there are dark areas, add more lighting. If there are boxes or larger items in the way of fall areas, remove those.

More Passive Fall Protection 

if there is some reason that you cannot remove the hazards, you can implement more passive fall protection. This could be a guardrail or something blocking the edge of a building so that someone cannot fall.

Fall Restraint Systems

These systems could include something like a full-body harness, lines, or even anchors to keep the worker tethered to a structure. These can prevent falls from happening.

What Is a Fall Arrest System?

A fall arrest system is put in place in case a fall does occur. It is designed to protect a worker after they’ve fallen rather than prevent them from falling.

For instance, this could include an energy-absorbing lifeline to prevent impact. There could also be a system that alerts EMS services that will speed up the rescue mission. 

How to Choose the Best Fall Arrest System 

When it comes to choosing the best fall arrest system, you are choosing one that prevents injury or death after a fall happens. This needs to be a backup option if the elimination of hazards or substituting one design for another doesn’t work.

This is truly the last line of defense against falls. Here are a few systems you can choose from, and why you may choose one over the other. 

Self-Retracting Lifelines (Yo-Yos)

Have you ever been rock climbing? You may have been on something similar to a self-retracting lifeline. This lifeline acts as a belay so that if an employee falls, it slowly beats them to the ground without impact.

The self-retracting lines have a braking mechanism that operates during a fall. This is what causes the impact on the ground to be minimum – if any at all.

These are best to use on shorter distances to the ground as the braking mechanism locks within inches of falling, not after feet of descending.

Shock Absorbing Lanyards

Shock-absorbing lanyards are typically used for longer distances from the ground than self-retracting lifelines. They usually provide about six feet of free fall from the point that it is anchored or the person falls from. From there, there are an additional three or so feet of deceleration of the fall.

This deceleration minimizes the shock that the body may feel upon impact on the ground. This can also save someone’s life. Although that’s the case, it does not mean that it is foolproof.

Because of the deceleration technique, the impact of the fall that the worker withstands has a lot to do with the employee’s weight. Lighter employees may not feel the impact of the fall as much as heavier employees may because of the ability of the deceleration to work.

Safety Nets

Safety nets are exactly what they sound like. They are nets put under where workers may fall in case they do fall, they will be caught in the net.

If a worker falls into the net, there is still a risk of injury, however, they do avoid hitting the ground on impact.

Choosing a Fall Arrest System 

When it comes to choosing a fall arrest system, you have to think about multiple things.

How far is the device from the ground? How many workers are using the systems? Is there another system I can put in place first?

Once you ask these questions, you can choose between some of the more popular fall arrest systems. 

Once you choose a fall arrest system, you should also take all other precautions like scheduling regular equipment maintenance to be sure it is safe to use and functions correctly. At Shannahan Crane & Hoist Inc., we can do that for you. Contact us to service your equipment to keep you and your employees safe!

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