Fall Protection – Basic Types

Falls are the number-one cause of accidental deaths in construction. And you don’t have to fall far to be killed or injured.

On many sites, guardrails are the most common and convenient means of fall protection. For more information, refer to the Safety Talk “Guardrails.”

Where guardrails cannot be installed or are impractical, the two basic types of fall protection are travel restraint and fall arrest. Both involve a full body harness.

Travel-Restraint System

  • A travel-restraint system keeps you from getting too close to an unprotected edge.
  • Lifeline and lanyard are adjusted to let you travel only so far. When you get to the open edge of a floor or roof, the system holds you back.
  • A full body harness should be used with travel restraint systems. You can attach the harness directly to a rope grab on the lifeline or by a lanyard. The lifeline must be securely anchored.

Fall-Arrest System
Where other fall protection is not in place, you must use a fall-arrest system if you are in danger of falling more than 3 metres
• into operating machinery
• into water or another liquid
• into or onto a hazardous substance or object.

A fall-arrest system consists of a full body harness, a lanyard, and a shock absorber. You can connect the lanyard directly to adequate support OR
• to a rope grab mounted on an adequately anchored lifeline.

A full body harness must also be worn and tied off when you are
• on a rolling scaffold that is being moved
• getting on, working from, or getting off a suspended platform, suspended scaffold, or bosun’s chair.

Lifelines must be adequately anchored. For fall arrest, that means able to support the weight of a small car (about 3,600 pounds). Fall-arrest loads can be high.