Workplace Safety

What Is A Fall Arrest System? All You Want To know

What is a fall arrest system?

A fall arrest system is a device intended to stop a worker from falling.

There are two different kinds of fall arrest systems: general fall arrest systems like netting and personal fall arrest systems like lifelines.

For more specific information, keep reading.

What Is A Fall Arrest System?

For workers whose jobs expose them to fall hazards, a fall arrest system is their last line of defense. In addition to these, guardrails and other protective barriers, as well as personal restraints that stop falls from happening, can be used to warn of potential fall hazards.

A suitable body-holding device, like a harness, a fall-energy-absorbing component, an anchor line, an anchor point, connector equipment, and lanyards are the components of a personal fall arrest system.

A significant cause of occupational injury and death is falls. So, for workers at height who are not sufficiently protected by a barrier, restraint, or other protective apparatus, every jurisdiction with a developed occupational safety program mandates the use of fall arrest systems. In most jurisdictions, including the European Union, working at height requires a risk assessment to determine the degree and kind of protection required.

Although the term “fall arrest system” refers to both general fall arrest systems and personal fall arrest systems, when used without specification the term typically refers to personal fall arrest systems. Both systems need to be properly anchored for them to work. The requirement that an anchor be able to withstand at least twice the impact force of a falling worker is one that is frequently used in many jurisdictions, including the United States.

The use of a personal fall protection system should not be assumed to provide absolute safety for a worker who has fallen. Suspension trauma, a potentially fatal condition brought on by the increased pressure vertical suspension places on the heart, can strike workers in this situation. In order to prevent potential cardiac arrest, suspended workers should be rescued in less than ten minutes and slowly brought to a horizontal position. See more about What Is A Home Invasion?

Systems To Prevent Falls Ought To Be…

When other fall protection options, such as engineering controls (such as, elevated platform), guardrails, safety nets, or travel restraint. Fall arrest systems should:

  • be designed to keep the free fall distance as short as possible,
  • keep the forces of the fall on the worker reasonable,
  • be designed to protect the worker from striking other surfaces when falling, and
  • protect from pendulum or swing falls.
What Is A Fall Arrest System All You Want To know
What Is A Fall Arrest System? All You Want To know

Factors Need To Be Taken Into Account When Using A Fall Arrest System

It’s critical to evaluate both the risks that a worker might face if they were to fall and the fall arrest system’s overall effectiveness. Three key elements include:

  • bottoming out – the term used when a worker may hit the ground, or any material, equipment, or a lower level of the structure before the fall is arrested
  • pendulum effect – also known as swing fall, occurs when the worker swings from side to side, and there is the possibility the worker will hit equipment, material, or a structure while swinging
  • suspension trauma – also known as orthostatic intolerance, this injury occurs when a worker is suspended. Their blood will pool in their legs while they are suspended (hanging), which will cut down on the amount of oxygen the brain receives.

Fall arrest systems may be affected by circumstances that slow the fall, such as sliding down a slope or sunk into loose material (such as fine granules or free flowing solid).

Always use the right tools for the job, whether they are wire rope, synthetic rope, cable, or rail arresters.

Before use, all equipment or systems must be examined, and if any problems are found, a qualified individual should decide whether the item should be used, fixed, or taken out of service.

How Is Bottoming Out Avoided?

The fall arrest system should be created with the shortest free fall distance in mind in order to avoid bottoming out.

To determine the total fall clearance distance, consider the following elements:

  • length of the lanyard
  • length of the energy absorber when it is deployed (when in use)
  • length of the harness and other equipment when stretched
  • the location and strength of the anchor point
  • the worker’s height
  • the vertical (up and down) and horizontal (side-to-side) clearances
  • the potential for pendulum or swing falls
  • a safety factor distance

How Does The Pendulum Effect Work?

When a worker swings from side to side after a fall has been stopped, it is known as the pendulum effect, also known as a swing fall. A swinging worker runs the risk of hitting the ground (vertical impact), as well as equipment, materials, or the structure (horizontal impacts). The more the worker swings, the more forcefully they will strike anything in their path. When the lines come into contact with rough or sharp edges, the lanyard or lifeline may also move and cause these lines to break.

The anchor point needs to be directly above the worker in order to minimize swing. Additional options include using a second anchor point concurrently, switching anchor points as work progresses to keep the lanyard or lifeline perpendicular (directly above), or using a horizontal lifeline, as necessary.

What Is Suspension Trauma

An employee who is suspended experiences suspension trauma. Blood will collect in their legs while they are suspended (hanging) due to pressure from their body weight against the harness. As a result, the brain will have less access to blood (and oxygen). There is a chance of death, severe injury, or unconsciousness. Kidney failure is one of the possible delayed effects.

The steps required to quickly rescue suspended workers will be described in an efficient rescue plan.

A relief strap or a foot loop fastened to the harness that a worker can slide their feet into may ease the strain while they are suspended. If the worker is unconscious (due to the fall or a suspension trauma), these measures won’t be of any use. Workers may also try to “pump” their legs often to help activate the muscles needed to move blood.

Any employee who has fallen should be taken to the hospital for evaluation. How long has the employee been suspended? Let the emergency medical team know. Request that the medical staff keep an eye out for kidney failure.


Workers who must work at heights use a wide range of personal fall protection systems to position the worker or restrict their movements to stop falls or protect them in the event of a fall. Where there is a possibility of a free fall from a height, a fall arrest system is used.

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