Fall Protection

Frequently Asked Questions

Working at height, whether on rooftops or another raised surface, is inherently dangerous. While there’s no way to entirely remove the risk of falls when working at height, this risk can be mitigated with comprehensive planning and the right type of fall protection.

In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at the different types of fall protection, and answering some of the most common questions we get from contractors, site managers, and more.

What is fall protection?

Fall protection is usually used to describe a system or parts of a system designed to prevent falls from height and make working at height safer.

The two types of fall protection are collective fall protection systems, like guardrails, which protect anyone accessing the area with or without training, and personal protection systems, such as lanyards and harnesses, which can generally only be used by a single person and require special training to use safely.

Collective Fall Protection
Personal Fall Protection

At what height is fall protection required?

Those who have been in the industry for a while might still claim six feet is the height at which fall protection is required, however, this is no longer the case.

The Work at Height Regulations, introduced in 2005, removed this guidance and instead defined work at height as work carried out anywhere that a person could be injured due to falling, even at or below ground level. This could include work around pits or on a steep incline.

The Work at Height Regulations also requires key duty holders such as managers and site owners to ensure:

  • All work at height is properly planned and organised
  • Those involved in work at height are competent
  • All risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
  • The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
  • Equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained

As such, if there is a risk of injury from falling – no matter the altitude – the right protection must be identified and implemented.

What are the different types of fall protection systems?

As mentioned above, there are two main types of protection, collective and personal.

According to the working at height hierarchy of controls, collective protection should be prioritised over personal protection wherever possible when planning work.

Collective protection includes:

Collective protection should always be prioritised as it will generally serve to protect anyone accessing the roof, no matter their intention or level of training.

Personal protection, meanwhile, includes:

Although these systems are very effective in their own right, they should only be used when collective protection has already been considered and implemented wherever possible.

A comprehensive risk assessment and site survey should be carried out to identify the best solution for you.

How often should fall protection equipment be inspected?

Under health and safety legislation and the Work at Height Regulations, site managers and owners are legally required to have all fall safety equipment inspected and recertified by a professional at least annually.

Standards such as BS 7883:2019 also require duty holders to have anchor points regularly inspected to ensure their integrity.

Although collective protection systems generally have fewer moving parts and are less prone to failure than personal protection solutions, it is still important to have these systems inspected and recertified regularly as exposure to the elements can make them less effective.

Personal protection should be inspected by a competent person before each use, and removed from service if any irregularities are spotted.

Fall Protection Recertification by Safesite London
Recertification by Safesite London

We can help

Still not sure about which solution you need? At Safesite, we’ve been helping business owners, site managers, and risk managers identify, install, and maintain high-quality fall protection systems for decades. For more information, get in touch or fill in our contact form below.

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