Gravity in an unforgiving force. In almost every industry there are certain areas where the workers are exposed to fall hazards and unless you have superhuman powers like Spiderman, this can lead to serious or fatal injuries. Aside from the loss of human lives, fatal falls annually result in billions of dollars in worker compensation costs.
Of course, all these injuries and fatalities can be avoided by the development and implementation of comprehensive fall protection programs in the work space.
In order to do that, the fall hazards must first be identified by a competent person and then prevented in a number of ways. This includes construction of scaffolds, movable platforms, handrails, or barriers that can protect the workers operating at heights. However, very often the construction of these devices is impractical, in which case personal fall protection equipment is required such as a full body harness, lanyards, and retractable lifelines. Various personal fall protection is required depending on the heights and the job.
A proper fall arrest equipment consists of three vital components which include: anchorage, body support, and means of connection. Each of these components must be in place and properly used in order to provide maximum protection for the worker. Other than that, the fall arrest equipment itself must be carefully considered. This referrers to the selection of materials, construction and proper inspection and maintenance of the equipment.
An anchorage is defined as a secure point where the lifelines, lanyards, or deceleration devices can be attached. This can be a fixed structural component such as a beam, column, floors, grider and so on, that can support the forces excreted during a fall. An anchorage connector is a component by which the equipment is coupled with the anchorage.
Body support, otherwise known as body wear, is the component worn by the worker usually on or around the torso. The most common body supports are body belts of full body harnesses. The body belt as you can tell by the name, is a belt that circles the waist and is used for fall prevention and positioning the worker, but must never be used for personal fall arrest. A full body harness, on the other hand, can be used for positioning, fall prevention, climbing, and fall arrest. In fact it is the only form of body wear acceptable for fall arrest.
And finally, the connecting system is the critical link which joins the body wear to the anchorage or the anchorage connector. This includes equipment such as an energy-absorbing lanyard, self-retracting lanyard, fall limiter, rope grab, or a retrieval system.
It is recommended to use fall arrest equipment at any time when working at an elevated level and exposed to a fall hazard.