Have you ever asked yourself questions that are along the lines of ‘Why we need fall arrest harnesses?’ or ‘What's the difference between this version compared to other harnesses?’ 

Whether you have or maybe you've started a new project where you've been advised you will need a fall arrest harness, or any harness, you've landed in the right place. 

If at any point in this article you've got questions on how any of the variations of this safety equipment can help you, please contact a regularly trained member of the LES team who will be happy to help guide you on products that will provide an effective solution for you. 

Let's start off by uncovering the basics around this particular piece of on-person equipment by asking the question... 

What are Fall Arrest Harnesses?

When you are working above ground, your personal safety is everything. These items work by decelerating a fall by absorbing the kinetic energy from the fall.

The harness cushions your fall which prevents the fall from being too harsh on your body and causing any personal injury or death.

These harnesses allow the user to have free movement to do the desired task at hand.

Why Do We Need Them?

It is vital to take necessary precautions to ensure you and your workers are safe when working above ground level. Our advise to you is the same that we always give our valued customers which is to please not ignore safety advice and avoid using safety equipment that has the ability to prevents injuries or potentially death.

Currently, falling is one of the main causes of injury in the workplace so in order to keep this from happening you can wear suitable safety equipment such as the equipment we're discussing in this article. 

Amongst all areas of work, roof work is classed as the highest risk. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from roofs are currently one of the most common causes of workplace death and serious injury in the UK. However, these incidents can also occur in industries such as construction, warehouses, and repair work.

How Do These Harnesses Differ From Fall Restraints Harnesses?

It's easy to get confused between fall arrest and fall restraint harnesses as they sound and look similar when looking at the items at face value. We want to make sure you're aware of the differences before you purchase one or the other to ensure you've got the equipment that's right for you. That's why we're going to look at the key differences between the harnesses. 

Fall restraint harnesses prevent you from falling by stopping people from going near the edge of where a fall may happen when you're on higher ground. This, in turn, decreases the chances of a fall occurring.

The arrest version is used when scaling buildings to give the operator the flexibility to work at height. 

When you see or are using an arrest version of this safety gear, it's likely you will see fall arrest lanyards as well. Combining these pieces of equipment together creates a trusty fall restraint system to add that extra layer of support to you or the team member in the harness. This sort of fall restraint system suits workers who work on the edge of buildings such as roofers.

As previously mentioned, the arrest system provides you maximum freedom of movement so that you, your team, and workers needing one can carry out their duties. They do not prevent workers from reaching the edge of a building since the harnesses concentrate on the worst-case scenario (the fall). If a worker is to fall, they will be able to self-rescue or be rescued by someone else (depending on the situation).

You can get a more in-depth read on the variety of differences by reading our article 'Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest: The Pros and The Cons' where we weigh up the pros and cons to give you insight. 

Factors to Consider When Using

There are two key factors you need to consider when using this safety gear - the pendulum effect and the rescue plan. Let's look at each of them in more detail. 

The pendulum effect:

The pendulum effect is a potential hazard that may occur if you use an arrest system. If workers are not anchored to a point directly above them then the fall may cause a pendulum effect.

This is when the worker will be swinging from side to side along the side of the building until momentum is lost. This can be quite dangerous since the person could hit the side of the building at speed and/or knock into a nearby structure.

Unfortunately, this effect cannot be avoided but you can increase your safety by wearing a helmet since a knock to the head can be life-threatening! Also, please make sure to stay calm if you do fall and always try and stay 30 degrees of your anchor to limit the pendulum effect.

Rescue plan:

If you or your team are unfortunate enough to fall, then you should have an emergency or rescue plan in place (this is a legal requirement). If you don't, we highly recommend this is something you look into solving to protect yourself and anyone else on the project at height.

Most rescue plans have to be specific towards the site in which you are working. It's great for you to consider aspects such as location, the safety of the rescuer, suitable equipment, where to attach the casualty to the rescue system, where to move the worker that has just fallen, and have first aid nearby. These are all great to have in case of injury and providing quick response. 

After considering all these different factors, you can expect your rescue plan to be successful. It's our recommendation that you always update your rescue plan to make sure it is site-specific since rescue plans may need to be altered depending on location and the working requirements.

Are they for you?

Our answer: if you are working from above ground and require freedom of movement to be able to work, this is a must and a big YES! 

Fall restraints can be useful, however, you need to consider that they will reduce your freedom of movement. If you need your freedom of movement then purchasing an arrest version harness system over a fall restraint system is likely to be the correct decision. 

If you do choose to purchase the arrest version, then please store your equipment in a safe place. You should keep your equipment away from any sharp items or chemicals that may affect the reliability of your equipment. Also, do inspect your equipment to ensure it is in top shape and still reliable to use.

If you're unsure on what harness is correct for your situation, please please contact a member of our LES team where we can help find you a suitable solution.