If you’re new to working at heights or you are about to start or work in a business that includes working at heights, then you’ll need to know all about fall protection systems. Working at heights is one of the most risky types of environment and a major cause of accidents, injuries and even deaths. Therefore, safety is essential. So a starter guide to fall protection systems can be useful to you.
Table of contents:
Definition Of A Fall Protection System
Ultimately, a fall protection system is a system which employers use to protect their employees from serious harm if someone accidentally falls while working high up. There are several components that are part of a fall protection system. For example, they can include anchorages, harnesses, connections, rescue and evacuation equipment, vertical and horizontal lifeline systems and confined space equipment.
Types Of Fall Protection System
As well as this, there are different types of fall protection system which work in different scenarios. The most common types of fall protection system include the fall arrest system, positioning, suspension and retrieval.
Fall Arrest systems are used in situations for anyone working at a height of 6 feet or more. There are two types of fall arrest, general (nets) and personal (lifelines). A fall arrest system activates when or if a fall happens. Once it sets off, the person using the fall protection system will be caught either by a net or a lifeline.
A positioning system holds a worker in place so their hands are free to work. If the person leans back, the equipment will activate. However, this does not provide fall arrest.
A suspension system can also lower and support a worker while leaving their hands free. For example, window washers and painters often use suspension systems, as well as fall arrest systems.
In the event of a fall, a retrieval system can lower a worker to the ground safely. This will be part of all fall protection plans.
What Is Classed As Working At Height
Generally speaking, work at height means work in any place where a fall could cause personal injury if precautions are not taken.
For example, you are working at height if you;
- work above ground/floor level
- you could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface
- or you could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground
A fall from height is a fall from one level to a lower level. So it doesn’t include trips or slips on the same level or going up or down a permanent staircase in a building.
Who Needs A Fall Arrest System
You’ll see from this starter guide to fall protection systems that there are many industries where it is necessary to use them. For example, in each industry, workers are at risk of a fall from height. These industries include film, haulage, aerospace, ports and utility industries for example. Employees working with machinery, equipment, boats and buildings above a certain height, where fall restraint equipment is not enough, need a fall arrest system.
In construction, a fall hazard is defined as a drop of 6 feet or more from a working or walking surface to a lower level or grade. There are some exceptions to this, including working with ladders, scaffolding and steelwork. In this industry, an anchor point, body harness and connector, such as a lanyard or self retraction lifeline are common types of fall arrest equipment.
Workers who use trucks, buses and railcars are at risk to falls in loading and unloading areas, as well as maintenance facilities. Hence fall protection is vital for this industry too. For example, workers frequently need to flatbed trucks or railways cars to secure the cargo before unloading. Which leaves them at risk of serious injury or death.
In the aerospace industry, employers work on aircraft wings, fuselages and sometimes over an open hole in the ground. Therefore you will need a proper fall protection plan in place, which includes the right fall arrest system for each situation.
Workers in the port industry often work at height from containers and the tops of vehicles, including cranes. Hence there must be safe rescue and evacuation equipment available with the right fall arrest system.
The utilities sector includes working on roofs, wind turbines, pylon poles, scaffolding, aerial work platforms, ladders and construction sites. A robust fall arrest system will protect employees at risk of falls, as well the employer who manages the site.
In the film industry, you could be working from height for a stunt sequence, while operating a camera or by constructing the set. Hence the correct fall arrest system will help you to stay compliant and make your studio or set a safe place to be for everyone. With this in mind, you must follow the safety regulations of the country you are in at the time of filming.
What Does Fall-Pac Offer
Fall-Pac is a company which hires and sells fall arrest systems designed and manufactured in the UK.
The Fall-Pac units are specifically designed polystyrene and air pocket systems with the aim of providing the safest and most comfortable fall arrest system.
Each Fall-Pac unit includes specialist polystyrene which provides a soft landing, should a worker fall from height. As well as this, the design weighs less than 6kg and it’s compact, so it’s easy to set up and use.
Meanwhile, the Fall Pac Air is a ready-filled bag with a specific number of individual air pockets. Using a Fall Pac air means you’ll require fewer bags to cover the same area. Both the polystyrene and air cell system cover the same area.
What Is A Soft Fall Arrest
Typically, a soft fall arrest system is a modular impact cushioning system, either an air-filled or a low molecular weight polystyrene filled system. This is the type of fall arrest system that Fall-Pac specialises in.
For example, the air pocket fall landing bags provide protection for anyone working at heights of up to 2.7 metres. They are inflated before hand to the correct pressure level and then delivered to your site. This takes away the responsibility of your site operators inflating the fall landing bag to the correct pressure.
Then there are different sizes of the Fall Pac units to cover most operations. Each unit comes with 3 interlocking clips on all leading edges, this allows rapid deployment thus allowing large unprotected areas to become safe within minutes.
Hopefully, this starter guide to fall protection systems shows why they are important and necessary in certain working environments. Obviously, by providing such an essential function, every fall arrest system is subject to various safety rules and regulations. For example, people working with fall arrest systems need a training course. And the equipment must be checked regularly and maintained to ensure it is safe for use. All the products manufactured by Fall-Pac conform to safety standards, namely the latest BSI PAS59: 2014 standards.