How Strong Are Fall Protection Devices?

You might be wondering how strong fall protection devices are. After all, they’re meant to protect you from falling, so they must be pretty strong, right? Well, that depends.

How strong are fall protection devices?

The devices that are used for fall protection come in a variety of different designs and strengths. There are many different industries that require workers to be protected from potential falls, so the manufacturers of these devices make them accommodate a variety of different needs.

Some of the devices are meant to protect the user from falls of only a few feet, while others are designed to stop a person from falling hundreds of feet. The strength and design of the device will also often dictate how much it costs.

Each device is different, but most fall protection systems will have a safety factor range between 2:1 and 10:1. This means that the device is designed to support two or ten times the weight it is rated for. For example, if a fall protection system has a safety factor of 6:1, it can support six times the amount of weight that it is rated for without breaking. Most systems have a safety factor between 2:1 and 4:1.

Let’s put it this way: if you’re using a fall protection device correctly, it will be strong enough to support your weight. And trust us, you don’t want to find out the hard way how much weight that is!

Different types of fall protection devices

Fall protection devices are tools used to help prevent a worker from falling. There are many different types of fall protection devices, including:

  • Anchors: Used to secure lanyards, ropes, or harnesses to a firm structure.
  • Body harnesses: Worn by the worker to help distribute the force of a fall across the body.
  • Lanyards: Connects the worker’s harness to an anchor point.
  • Retractable lifelines: A type of lanyard that automatically locks in place if the worker falls.
  • Roof hatches: A fall protection device that is attached to the opening of a roof hatch to help prevent falls through the hatch.

How do fall protection devices work?

There are four basic components to any fall protection system: an anchor, a body support device, a connecting device, and a means of the arrest.

The anchor is the point at which the system is attached to a fixed structure. It can be either temporary or permanent and is typically made of metal or concrete.

The body support device is worn by the worker and provides protection from falls by supporting the weight of the worker in the event of a fall. This can be a full-body harness, chest harness, waist belt, or body sling.

The connecting device attaches the body support device to the anchor point and can be either fixed or adjustable. Common connecting devices include lanyards, shock-absorbing lanyards, wire rope assemblies, and rigid rail systems.

Finally, the means of arrest is what actually stops the worker from falling. This can be accomplished with a variety of systems including deceleration devices (such as shock-absorbing lanyards), fall arresting devices (such as personal fall arrest systems), or work positioning systems (which keep the worker in a safe position without preventing a fall).

What are the benefits of using fall protection devices?

Fall protection devices are designed to help prevent injuries by absorbing the impact of a fall and/or stopping a worker from falling. When working at heights, taking the necessary precautions to prevent injuries in the event of a fall is important. One way to do this is by using fall protection devices.

Some of the benefits of using fall protection devices include:

  • Reduced risk of injuries: By preventing workers from falling, or absorbing the impact of a fall, fall protection devices can help reduce the risk of injuries.
  • Increased productivity: Workers who feel safe and secure while working at heights are more likely to be productive. Fall protection devices can help create a sense of safety and security, which can lead to increased productivity.
  • Improved morale: When workers feel safe and secure while working, their morale will improve. This can lead to improved work quality and increased productivity.

Are there any drawbacks to using fall protection devices?

There are some potential drawbacks to using fall protection devices that you should be aware of before deciding whether or not to use them.

One potential drawback is that fall protection devices can sometimes limit your ability to move around freely. This can be a problem if you need to be able to move quickly or if you need to access areas that are difficult to reach.

Another potential drawback is that fall protection devices can be expensive. Some devices can cost hundreds of dollars, which may not be feasible for everyone.

Finally, fall protection devices can be a bit uncomfortable to wear, especially for extended periods of time. If you think you might need to use a fall protection device, make sure to try it on before purchasing it to see if it is comfortable for you.

How often should fall protection devices be inspected?

In general, fall protection devices should be inspected before each use. However, there are some devices that can be used multiple times before needing to be inspected. For example, a full-body harness that is only used by one person and is not subject to abrasion or other damage may only need to be inspected once a year.

What are some tips for using fall protection devices?

Here are some tips for using fall protection devices:

  • Inspect your fall protection devices before each use.
  • Make sure you understand how to use your fall protection device before using it.
  • Do not use damaged fall protection devices.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using your fall protection device.

How can I find more information about fall protection devices?

Most manufacturers have literature that gives performance data on their fall protection devices. Another way to get performance data is to contact an independent testing laboratory that has tested the device.

You can also view online safety standards for fall protection. For example, ANSI/ASSE Z359.1-2007, Minimum Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems, and Components, provides guidance on what minimum performance criteria a device must meet in order to be certified. The standard also includes guidance on how the device is to be tested.

In Closing

Fall protection systems are designed to prevent falls and minimize injuries if and when they occur. Make sure to only purchase a unit that can handle your weight and height.

NEXT UP: How Much Force Occurs In a Fall Situation?

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Rebecca Ross
About Rebecca Ross

Rebecca Ross an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) consultant who runs her own occupational safety consultancy. She focuses on hazardous materials, warehouse safety, fire safety, lab safety, fall protection, head protection and other workplace safety topics. Learn more about Rebecca here or connect with her on Twitter | LinkedIn | Medium