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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

In the hierarchy of fall protection, fall restraint systems are always the preferred choice.

The reason that fall restraint is preferred over fall arrest is simple: the safety equipment prevents falls preemptively, rather than waiting for a worker to fall before arresting them. Additionally, challenging post fall scenarios, such as executing a prompt and effective rescue, are eliminated when fall restraint systems are utilized.

Due to the benefits of fall restraint systems, they are increasing in popularity, and improved education is therefore needed on certain design considerations.

ANSI Z359.6 sets forth the Specifications and Design Requirements for Active Fall Protection Systems, which includes requirements for fall restraint systems. The following Q & A will serve to answer many questions that are commonly asked regarding design requirements for fall restraint systems:

Q: Can a Self-Retracting Lifeline be used in a fall restraint system?

A: Self-Retracting Lifelines should not be used in fall restraint systems unless the fully deployed length of the cable will not allow the worker to reach the hazard. For most applications, a fixed length or adjustable length lanyard is the preferred connecting equipment for fall restraint because they eliminate the uncertainty of total lanyard length.

Q: Should In-Line Horizontal Lifeline Energy Absorbers be used in fall restraint systems?

A: Energy Absorbers (on the Horizontal Lifeline) are recommended on fall restraint systems, but the design engineer must ensure the energy absorber will not deploy during normal use and cause system deflections that could result in unexpected positioning for the user.

Q: Does fall clearance need to be considered in fall restraint systems?

A: No. In fall restraint systems, the fall clearance does not need to be considered, which is one of their key benefits. However, the design engineer should take user error into consideration, as simple mistakes caused by lack of training or poor execution can quickly turn restraint into arrest.

Q: What force should be used for designing temporary restraint anchors?

A: Temporary restraint anchorages can be designed for a force of 400 pounds per worker attached or a safety factor of 2, whichever is greater. All temporary restraint anchorages should be designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a Qualified Person.

Q: Can permanent fall restraint systems be designed to a force lower than 5,000 pounds?

A: Permanent fall restraint systems, such as single anchor points and horizontal lifelines, must be designed for fall arrest. The reason for this requirement is to protect against accidental misuse that may occur during the lifetime of the system. As a result, permanent fall restraint systems must also comply with standards for fall arrest. A safety factor of at least 2 must be maintained when evaluating systems for worst-case loadings during a fall arrest event. A common force that is used for a fall arrest system is 3,600 pounds, but design values vary based on a number of factors, such as the number of users, and the amount of anchors or horizontal lifelines that are utilized.

Designing a permanent fall restraint system can be made easy as long as you have all of your questions answered ahead of time. If you have any more questions on the subject of permanent fall restraint systems, please feel free to reach out to me via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 1.800.466.6385.