Frequently Asked Questions
What is a fall arrest system?
An easy way to remember the components of a fall arrest system is to use the ‘ABCDE’ method.
- A – Anchor Point
This is defined as the fall arrest rated point to which a worker can be tethered to carry out work safely.
- B – Body Harness
This is defined as an Australian Standards approved, full body harness (belts and lower torso harnesses are excluded from the standard for most industrial applications). Choosing the right harness for the type of work to be carried out, frequency of use, comfort levels, etc is critical to maintain user acceptance and compliance.
- C – Connector
A term used for a collective volume of hardware including hooks, karabiners and adjusters used between the harness and the anchor point.
- D – Decelerator
By law, every fall protection system must have an energy absorption component to minimise the impact of the force created during a fall on the body to less than 6kN (600kg).
- E – Emergency Rescue Procedure
The emergency rescue plan is an essential part of any site work plan. If a fallen worker is suspended for an extended period of time, they may be subjected to the dangerous and uncomfortable effects of suspension trauma.
How does this height safety equipment help to reduce injury?
By either preventing you from falling (in restraint mode) or keeping the forces after a fall to less than 6kN (600kg).
At what height must fall arrest equipment be used?
It is recommended that fall protection equipment be worn above any height where a fall can result in injury. State regulatory requirements differ from 1.8m to 2.4m and should be consulted. Site or company requirements may also apply.
Why is the attachment point for fall-arrest usually located at the rear between the shoulders?
This position during a fall-arrest puts you in a vertical posture that helps to reduce injury in a fall.
What is the scheduled inspection period for harnesses, lanyards, inertia reels, static line systems & anchor points?
Six months for harnesses & lanyards. Twelve months for inertia reels, static line systems and anchor points in accordance with AS/NZS 1891.4. or as per the manufacturers requirements. For equipment used in harsh environments, a more frequent inspection policy is recommended.
How long can a harness be in service before it must be replaced?
Ten years from date of manufacture, providing that all harness components remain in a serviceable condition.
How much load must an anchor point used for fall arrest be capable of sustaining?
15kN (1500kg), for one person, for two persons an anchor point must be rated to a minimum of 21kN (2100kg).
Is user training important?
User training is critical in the correct implementation and use of a fall protection plan. Effective use, care and maintenance of all fall arrest equipment can prevent the vast majority of incidents in any work place.
Following Are Five Principles of Fall Protection
- Fall Arrest
A system which is designed to stop a free fall of a user and limit the maximum arresting forces imposed on the user to 6kN or less. (e.g. steel erection, suspended platform activities and elevated maintenance work).
- Work Positioning
A system which is designed to hold and sustain the user at a work location and limit the free fall to 600mm.
A system designed to prevent the user from reaching an area in which a fall could occur, thus free fall is impossible (e.g. leading edge roof work).
A system designed to suspend and support the user while being transported (raised up or down) vertically and does not allow free fall (e.g. bosuns chair work).
A system designed to raise or lower a user to safety in the event of an emergency, no fall possible (e.g. confined space work).
Cleaning of Web Personal Fall Protection Products
- Laundering Procedure
Various procedures can be effective in cleaning web products. High pressure power type washers and steam cleaners should be avoided when cleaning web products, because of potential harm to the web fibres. Two acceptable procedures are detailed below.
- Hand Scrubbing. This procedure is effective for low volumes of equipment and can be performed internally at an economical price. The product can be soaked in a water/cleaner solution before hand scrubbing. The scrubbing action will help break down dirt, grease or other material on the webbing. Once cleaned, the product should be rinsed in clean water and hung up to air dry in a well ventilated area, out of direct sunlight. Never exceed 70°C when drying.
- Machine Wash. A top or side loading agitating style washing machine (commercial or consumer type) is acceptable for cleaning web products. The product should be placed in a mesh bag to prevent entanglement. A full wash and rinse cycle should be performed. Once cleaned, the product should be hung up to air dry in a well ventilated area, out of direct sunlight. Never exceed 70°C when drying.
- Cleaning Agents
A variety of cleaning agents are available. A mild detergent (bleach free) such as one used for laundering clothing is acceptable. For added cleaning power, a commercial/industrial strength cleaning agent can be used. Recommendations can be provided. The cleaning agent supplier should be asked to supply appropriate information on the amount of cleaning agent to use, as well as disposal instructions based on your procedure and the degree of cleaning required. Also, if a consumer type washing machine is to be used, consult the cleaning agent supplier for compatibility. A number of cleaning agents are available on the market that will produce acceptable results.
- Cleaning Agent Specifications
In general, the pH level (acidity or alkalinity) of the cleaning solution should be no higher than 11 or 12. A pH level higher than 12 may harm the webbing and affect the performance of the product. The water temperature, when laundering, should not exceed 55°C. Generally a wash temperature between 40°C and 55°C is recommended for safe, effective cleaning.
Creating a Fall Protection Plan
Consider documenting and updating height safety procedures, especially when the work is unfamiliar, involves a high level of risk or is repetitive. A fall protection plan can help prevent injuries from occurring, prevent repeat injuries and show evidence of attempts to reduce injuries.
- People exposed to a fall situation of more than 2 metres
- Preventing unauthorised access to dangerous areas
- Personal fall arrest equipment
- Confined space work
- Swing fall hazards
- Work suspension practices
- Working slack and lanyard lengths
- First man up devices
- Distance between nearest obstacle below
- Permanent or temporary access
- Rope access
- Passive Systems
- Restraint systems, guardrails, scaffolds
- Personnel (safety nets)
- Suitable anchorages and anchorage straps
- Attachment connectors and attachment hardware
- Temporary horizontal lifelines
- Permanent engineered systems (Hammerhead safety rail, Strongrail, sliding anchor beams, davit arms, I beam trolleys)
- Training by a competent person
- Documentation by a qualified person
- Means of determining worker comprehension
- Inspection schedules and procedures
- Rescue equipment and procedures Back-up systems
Remove height safety equipment from service and return to RIS when:
- Annual service and/or periodical inspection is due
- It has been involved in a fall
- Labels have been removed, are missing, illegible or obliterated
- Exposed to high temperatures, i.e. when left in a hot closed car, or evidence of melting or charring
- Exposed to extreme low temperatures or frozen. Some synthetic materials can permanently reduce their strength when exposed to temperatures above 55°C or UV radiation
- Acid, caustic or organic solvent burns
- Excessive abrasive wear(e.g. furry or frayed surface)
- Excessive general corrosion, any pitting corrosion, cracked, distorted, burred, worn or broken hardware
- Knots in any parts of the equipment Broken fibres, tear, cuts, snags and splinters
- Deterioration or stretching of any kind Sunlight degradation
- Weld burns
- Loss of resilience, discoloration or other visible damage that cause doubt as to the strength of the equipment of potential overloading
- Part mechanisms not moving freely
- Reduction in cross-section area of rope or webbing Loose or unraveling of fibres, strands or stitching
- Excessive contamination not removed by approved cleaning methods
- It is more than 10 years old