Fall arrest, fall restraint and fall prevention are three terms extensively used in the height safety industry in various contexts.

Sayfa Group, a leading manufacturer of height safety, access and fall protection systems, offers a simple explanation of these different terms based on the hierarchy of risk control: eliminate the risk, provide a barrier or fence, and use a fall arrest system.

Fall Prevention

Fall prevention is the highest form of protection, according to the hierarchy of risk control as it removes the risk of the worker falling by providing a barrier between them and the fall hazard. Guardrails and skylight protectors are examples of fall prevention equipment. This method requires the least amount of operator competence for working at heights.

Fall Restraint

Fall restraint, the next in the hierarchy of risk control, restricts the movement of the worker in reaching the fall edge. Lanyards are typically of fixed length that will not extend past the fall edge, effectively serving as a leash to prevent a fall situation. However, fall restraint relies on correct operator use, especially if an adjustable length lanyard is being used. User competency and system training are essential when using fall arrest equipment. Also, anchorages and support structures should be fall arrest rated (15kN) even if the system is used for fall restraint.

Fall Arrest

The last in the hierarchy of risk control, a fall arrest system is designed to arrest the fall of a worker. Though it does not prevent the worker from falling and also has the highest potential for injury, fall arrest systems are still a useful option when other means are not practical.

A rescue plan must always be in place prior to any person using the fall arrest device.

Image: Fall restraint restricts the movement of the worker in reaching the fall edge