What Are Fall Arrest Systems In Construction Sites? A Guide
Construction sites are inherently risky environments, and falls from heights are among the most common accidents that occur there. According to Safe Work Australia, falls from heights accounted for 13% of all worker fatalities in the construction industry from 2015 to 2019. This statistic only highlights the importance of fall arrest systems in ensuring the safety of workers on construction sites.
This guide will discuss everything you need to know about fall arrest systems in construction.
What Is A Fall Arrest System?
A fall arrest system, otherwise known as fall protection systems, is a safety system designed to prevent a worker from falling from a height. It consists of three main components: the anchor point, the body harness, and the lanyard or lifeline.
The anchor point is a secure attachment point that can withstand the force of a fall. It can be a permanent fixture on a building or can be created using temporary structures such as scaffold hire. The body harness is worn by the worker and is connected to the anchor point using a lanyard or lifeline. If a worker slips or falls off a scaffold, the fall arrest system will come into play and keep the worker from hitting the ground, effectively preventing injury or death.
Types Of Fall Arrest Systems
There are two main types of fall arrest systems: personal fall arrest systems and collective fall arrest systems.
- Personal fall arrest systems: These are designed to protect individual workers working at heights. They consist of an anchor point, a body harness, and a lanyard or lifeline. Personal fall arrest systems are ideal for workers who need to move around a lot, as they provide maximum mobility and flexibility.
- Collective fall arrest systems: These are designed to protect multiple workers working at heights. They make use of several safety devices, such as guard rails, safety nets, and other barriers that prevent workers from falling. Collective fall arrest systems are ideal for situations where many workers are in the same area and do not need to move around much.
Choosing The Right Fall Arrest System
Choosing the right fall arrest system is crucial for ensuring the workers’ safety on construction sites. Here are the factors to consider when choosing a fall arrest system.
- Type of work: A personal fall arrest system may be the best option if workers need to move around frequently. Meanwhile, a collective fall arrest system may be more appropriate if many workers are in a fixed location.
- Height of the work site: A fall arrest system is essential for heights of two meters or more. But if the workers will be at heights of less than two meters, a fall arrest system may not be necessary.
- Number of workers on the site: A collective fall arrest system may be the best option if multiple workers are on the site, while a personal fall arrest system may be more appropriate if there is only one worker.
Besides these factors, make sure to conduct a thorough risk assessment before choosing a fall arrest system. Better yet, consult a qualified professional to ensure the fall arrest system is installed correctly and effectively.
Installation Of Fall Arrest Systems
Here are some key considerations when installing fall arrest systems:
- Hire a qualified professional. It’s recommended to hire a qualified professional who has experience installing fall arrest systems. That way, you can guarantee that the system is installed correctly and meets all safety requirements.
- Choose the right anchor points. The anchor points are the foundation of the fall arrest system, and they need to be strong enough to withstand the fall’s sudden force. They should also be securely attached to a structure that can support the worker’s weight.
- Ensure proper spacing. The anchor points should be spaced at a safe distance to prevent the worker from hitting the ground in the event of a fall. The spacing will depend on the type of fall arrest system used and the height at which the work is done.
- Inspect the equipment. Before installing the fall arrest system, inspect all equipment to ensure it’s in good condition and free from defects.
- Test the system. Once the fall arrest system is installed, test it to ensure it works properly. This includes testing the anchor points, harness, lanyard or lifeline, and other system components.
- Provide training. Workers must receive proper training on how to use the fall arrest system properly. This includes how to put on and adjust the harness properly, how to connect to the anchor point, and how to inspect the equipment before each use.
With these steps, you can ensure the fall arrest system is installed correctly and effectively to protect your site workers from falls.
Inspecting Fall Arrest Systems
It’s highly recommended to inspect the fall arrest systems regularly to ensure they remain in good condition and continue to meet safety requirements. Remember these tips when inspecting your fall arrest system:
- Fall arrest systems should be inspected regularly, ideally before each use, to ensure all components are free from defects. The frequency of inspections may also depend on the type of fall arrest system and the work being done. Preferably, personal fall arrest systems should be inspected before each use, while collective fall arrest systems should be checked once a week.
- The inspection should include all components of the fall arrest system. Any worn or damaged parts should be replaced immediately.
- Find signs of wear and tear on the equipment, such as frayed or worn straps, tears in the harness, or kinks in the lifeline. Any damaged equipment should be repaired or replaced immediately.
- The harness should fit properly and be adjusted to the worker’s body. Also, check that all straps are properly fastened and that the harness is snug but not too tight.
- Record the details of all inspections, including the date, the inspector’s name, and any findings or recommendations.
Regular inspections and prompt action to address any issues will ensure that fall arrest systems work effectively to protect workers from injury and harm.
The Bottom Line
Fall arrest systems are essential for ensuring the safety of workers on construction sites. Choosing the right fall arrest system, installing it correctly, and inspecting it regularly are crucial steps in ensuring that the fall arrest system works effectively. Observing the guidelines outlined above can help you prevent falls from heights and keep your workers safe on construction sites.