A fall arrest risk is one where a person has the potential for falling from one height level to another and sustaining significant injury. There is a misconception that a person is only in a fall arrest risk if the distance of a potential fall is 2m or greater. The reality is however, that people can sustain serious injuries or even die from falls less than this distance, as evidenced by the statistics.
This misconception has likely developed through the issue of previous versions of Codes of Practice and other documentation issued by various parties that referred to this distance being a ‘default’ height for assessing such risks. The most recent issue of the Regulator publications however provides much clearer guidance about risk assessment for fall arrest.
Ultimately, a fall arrest system is designed to catch a worker after a fall has occurred and prevent the worker from contacting the level below. Fall arrest systems are therefore the least preferred control measures for working at height and should only be used when fall prevention or work positioning cannot be achieved.
The WHS Code of Practice Managing the risk of falls at workplaces states that a fall arrest system should be used instead of a restraint system whenever:
Examples of fall arrest systems include:
Managing Fall Arrest Risks
There are several ways to ensure that working in a fall arrest environment is safe, provided that adequate precautions are undertaken. These measures include (but are not limited to):