When employees are exposed to severe fall hazards while performing their job and no protection such as guard rails or nets is provided, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) enforces employers to setup a personal fall arrest system for fall protection. Personal fall arrest system generally recognizes common hazards and provides ways to minimize them. For fixed ladders more than 24 feet above a lower level, OSHA recommends that each fixed ladder installed before November 19, 2018 be equipped with a personal fall arrest system, a ladder safety system, a cage or a well, and that each fixed ladder installed after that date be equipped with a fall arrest ladder safety system.  Installation of a fall arrest ladder safety system shall be determined by the height the ladder extends above the ground/lower level and the fall distance of the worker.

Personal fall arrest systems

It is important to understand how personal fall arrest systems work and what attitude is needed to make safe use of them. It is, of course, a good idea to visually inspect and physically test these systems before they are used. Fall arrest kits protect workers from accidents and injuries that may be caused by falls from high platforms. The kits include a body harness, an anchor and a connector. The connector could be a self-retracting lanyard or a shock-absorbing fall arrest. Fall arrest kits offer workers with high freedom and mobility to prevent them from falling to lower levels while increasing their output. Fall arrest systems are attached to structural points capable of withstanding a great deal of force. Even when the harness is correctly in place, the force needed to stop a free fall puts tremendous stress on the body.

a personal fall arrest system

The components of a personal fall arrest system are designed to work together to limit a worker’s fall distance and the deceleration forces on the worker’s body to safe levels. It is extremely important to determine the anchor point and fall arrest lanyard types to be used. There are three different fall arrest lanyard types:
  • Shock-absorbing lanyards They are mostly 6 feet long and have an expansion pack (which could be rip-stitch or glue) on one end. The lanyard would start at 6 feet and possibly will be 9.5 feet after it has been deployed.
  • Self-retracting lanyards (SRLs)- SRLs are also used to arrest a fall after it has happened, however their engaging distance is short, leading to a maximum arrest distance of 24”.
  • Positioning lanyards- These lanyards provide the least flexibility possible. They are fixed in length and are designed to hold you in place, rather than arrest a fall. Their frequent use can be seen for rebar assembly for pour-in-place concrete walls.
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