Guide to Personal Fall Arrest
Falls are among the most common causes of injuries and deaths in the workplace, totaling an estimated 100,000 each
year. They are, in fact, the reason for more than half of all the on-the-job deaths among construction workers — and 15
percent of all occupational deaths.
But despite the increasing sales of fall protection products, the number of fall-related injuries continues to grow. Why?
The lack of proper training is one reason. Others are the selection of the wrong equipment for a particular application,
and the failure of a user to wear the equipment properly.
A Personal Fall Arrest System is comprised of three (3) key components – anchorage connector; body wear; and a connecting device.
While a lot of focus has been given to anchorage connectors and body wear (full-body harnesses), when discussing fall
protection, the connecting device (a shock-absorbing lanyard or self-retracting lifeline) between these two component
actually bears the greatest fall forces during a fall.
Anchorage: Commonly referred to as a tie-off point (Ex: I-beam, rebar, scaffolding, lifeline, etc.)
Anchorage Connector: Used to join the connecting device to the anchorage (Ex: cross-arm strap, beam anchor, D-bolt,
hook anchor, etc.)
- Anchorages must be capable of supporting 5,000 pounds of force per worker.
- Must be high enough for a worker to avoid contact with a lower level should a fall occur.
- The anchorage connector should be positioned to avoid a “swing fall.”
Body Wear: The personal protective equipment worn by the worker (Ex: full-body harness)
- Only form of body wear acceptable for fall arrest is the full-body harness.
- Should be selected based on work to be performed and the work environment.
-Side and front D-rings are for positioning only.
Connecting Device: The critical link which joins the body wear to the anchorage/anchorage connector (Ex: shock-
absorbing lanyard, fall limiter, self-retracting lifeline, rope grab, etc.)
- Potential fall distance must be calculated to determine type of connecting device to be used – typically, under 18-
1/2 ft. (5.6m), always use a self-retracting lifeline/fall limiter; over 18-1/2 ft. (5.6m), use a shock-absorbing lanyard
or self-retracting lifeline/fall limiter.
- Should also be selected based on work to be performed and the work environment.
- Shock-absorbing lanyards can expand up to 3-1/2 ft. (1.1m) when arresting a fall; attach lanyards to the harness
back D-ring only; never tie a knot in any web lanyard – it reduces the strength by 50%.