In many work environments, the biggest threat is injuries from a fall. There is a reason that fall tend to be the leading cause of fatal accidents in the construction industry year in and year out. Falls can occur from heights, from ladders, on staircases or on the same level surfaces.
This is why fall protection systems are often used when there is an increased level of danger. There are three common types of systems, all of which work a little differently.
Fall arrest systems
A fall arrest system is aimed at stopping a worker who has already started falling. It doesn’t prevent that fall, but it may stop the person from being severely injured. An example of this could be a worker who is wearing a harness on a roof. They can still fall and slide partway down the roof, but the harness will arrest that fall before they go over the edge.
Fall prevention systems
Another tactic is to use a system that makes a fall virtually impossible. An example of this would be workers on an elevated platform who have built-in rails around them. The railing keeps the worker from falling in the first place so they may not have to be tethered.
Travel restraint systems
The third system is a bit of a mix of the two, making it impossible for a worker to reach the edge in the first place. For instance, a worker on a roof may have a harness and a rope, and the length of the rope is such that the worker cannot accidentally walk off the edge. The harness doesn’t have to arrest the fall because it stops that fall from the beginning.
All of these systems can help, but accidents and injuries still do happen. Workers who have been hurt on the job need to know what legal options they have.