Fall Arrest and Fall Restraint

Fall restraint and fall arrest systems are completely different entities.
In essence, a fall restraint system prevents workers from reaching a hazard, while a fall arrest system allows workers to reach a hazard and then protects them if they should fall.

Fall Arrest

A fall arrest system provides maximum freedom of movement for workers to conduct their duties. In doing so it allows them to reach the point where a fall could occur, such as the edge of a roof for gutter maintenance. However, in the event of a fall, the fall will be arrested and so allow the person to either effect a self-rescue or be rescued.

Fall Restraint

These systems allow a person access to conduct their duties but prevent them from reaching a point where a fall could occur.

Restraint systems are generally suitable if the person needs to work at the edge of a hazard. For example, where there is a need to maintain gutters along the edge of a roof, or if there are other potential fall hazards such as a fragile roof, roof lights or air vents.

If fitting a fall restraint system, it is recommended that the system should be tested to fall arrest loads to ensure a person’s safety in situations where the system may be misused (i.e. when the person using it wears an over-length lanyard to enable access to the edge of a roof).

Restraint systems are generally positioned more than 2 m from the hazard. This is because common practice is for the worker to be connected to the system by a fixed length 1.5 m lanyard.