Putting Safety in the Net: The Right Fall Arrest Systems Make a World of Difference When it comes to Safety
Finding the right fall arrest systems to meet the needs of your company or business may feel like a bit of a game of chance. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is that every business faces unique safety hurdles along the way. The trick is in finding out what your specific needs are and then securing the proper fall protection system to cover those needs now and in the future.
What’s involved in a Proper Fall Arrest System?
There are actually three critical components to an effective system to arrest falls. A failure at any one of these three points could result in serious injury and even death. In other words, if all three components aren’t working together properly they can do a fair amount of harm on their own.
What are these three components?
1) Roof anchor point (or other anchor point)
2) Body harness
Different roofs or construction situations will require different pieces of equipment in order to achieve maximum effectiveness as part of the complete package. No fall arrest systems are “one size fits all” in nature and it’s important to take into account the individual needs of your business and the people who work for you when purchasing and constructing your fall arrest and/or prevention system.
Roof Anchor Point
Much like its name implies, this is the heart and soul of the safety system. More often than not, it’s an I-beam, scaffolding, or rebar that serves as the anchor point. The one requirement is that it’s strong. Falls from heights can develop a large amount of momentum fairly quickly. It’s best not to tempt the laws of physics and go for sheer brute strength rather than risking a failure at a critical moment by anchoring a harness system to a point that can’t support the weight of the workers using it.
Other important things to remember when it comes to anchor point locations is that they should be positioned so that falling people do not “swing” and risk greater injury and high enough so that the falling worker does not come in contact with a lower level – for the same reason.
The full-body harness, more specifically, is the only one that’s truly safe enough to be used for the purpose of arresting falls. Workers should choose a harness that’s appropriate for the nature of the work being done. Of course, they should keep safety in the front of their minds at all times during the selection process. Side and front D-rings on harnesses should only be used to aid with positioning and not as part of the safety procedures.
While more time and attention is often given to the selection of the perfect body harness and the location of the roof anchor points, it would be foolish to overlook the critical role that the connecting device plays in the success of the fall protection system you put into place. Shock absorbing lanyards typically work best with all kinds of fall arrest systems, but the distance at full extension needs to be included in calculations for height and to avoid the potential for “swing” falls.
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