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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

Hundreds of different types of fall protection equipment, designed be incorporated in either a fall restraint or a fall arrest system, are sold on a daily basis. And it is the duty of the trained and designated Competent Person to determine which of these systems should be incorporated on the job site to keep employees out of harm’s way.

In order to determine what system should be utilized on the site, let’s first review the difference between fall restraint and fall arrest:

FALL RESTRAINT

ANSI Z359.0-2007 defines fall restraint and fall restraint systems as follows:

2.63 Fall Restraint. The technique of securing an authorized person to an anchorage using a lanyard short enough to prevent the person’s center of gravity from reaching the fall hazard.

2.64 Fall Restraint System. A device or devices, including any necessary components, that prevents an authorized person from reaching a fall hazard.

FALL ARREST

ANSI Z359.0-2007 defines fall arrest and fall arrest systems as follows:

2.51 Fall Arrest. The action or event of stopping a free fall or the instant where the downward free fall has been stopped.

2.53 Fall Arrest System. The collection of equipment components that are configured to arrest a free fall.

In terms of equipment, fall arrest systems typically consist of an anchor point, full body harness, and a self-retracting lifeline. When used properly, this equipment coordinates with one another to catch someone mid-fall.

FALL RESTRAINT VS. FALL ARREST

When comparing the two different systems, fall restraint systems are the preferred option for preventing falls on the job site.

Fall restraint systems are ideal for leading edge rooftop applications where workers have to tie-off to anchorages at or near their feet. And this particular type of system eliminates the need for one of the most difficult aspects of fall protection, prompt rescue in the event of a fall.

However, unlike fall restraint systems, fall arrest systems do provide freedom of movement in the work zone. In some situations, the continually adjusting of a lanyard can become too cumbersome and, when a self-retracting lifeline is properly used overhead, it can allow for safe and convenient work zone access.

Newer self-retracting lifelines on the market include double leg features, which promote 100% tie-off; and others are super lightweight and easily portable on the job site.

So, when selecting the correct fall protection system to use on the job site, a Competent Person should carefully review all existing fall hazards and work activities to ensure that the best fall protection system is selected.

And, for safe use requirements and product limitations, a Competent Person should consult a fall protection expert or manufacturer so that they have as much information as possible. If there is every a doubt, a Qualified Person should be contacted.

If you have more questions regarding evaluating whether to incorporate a fall restraint or fall arrest system on your job site, please feel free to reach out to us at 1.800.466.6385 or via my email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..