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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Personal Fall Arrest Systems

Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) are life savers in construction and industry. Hear how to use and maintain them in this podcast.

Personal fall arrest systems have three major parts, the anchorage device, body support, and connectors. Dan Clark provides detail on the parts, including the two types of connectors.

Also hear how to inspect the systems, and if it’s okay to carry things in your pockets.


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Personal_Fall_Arrest_Systems-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Dan Clark: Gravity is a law that you can’t avoid. Personal fall arrest systems are an important line of defense between a worker and a dangerous fall. Let’s understand the parts of a system, how to check for damage and how to put it on.

Hi there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

For fall protection, engineering controls—such as guardrails or nets—are actually safer than a fall arrest system. But sometimes those are not practical or possible, so a fall arrest system is your safety lifeline.

There are three main parts to a personal fall arrest system. The ABCs of fall protection are Anchorage Device, Body Support, and Connectors.

A. Anchorage Device. This is the steady tie off point, such as a wall or I-beam, that can withstand the weight of a loaded pickup truck—5000 pounds of force. Of course, it won’t be holding a pickup truck. But a 220 pound worker suddenly dropping six feet, being suspended by a lanyard exerts a lot more force than that 220 pounds, and the anchorage point needs to support that weight.

B. Body Support. This is the harness worn by the workers. The straps, called webbing, fit around the chest, back, shoulders and legs. There’s a D ring on the back, between the shoulders. And the webbing is secured around the body with metal fasteners.

C. Connectors. The D ring on the back of the body support, the harness, has a connector to the anchorage device, the tie off point.

There are two types of connectors:

1. Shock Absorbing Lanyards – usually 6 feet long and they’re designed to stretch.

2. Self Retracting Lifelines – these uncoil and recoil to a drum while the worker moves around the worksite. If the worker falls, the lifeline instantly locks to prevent a further fall.

Before putting on the system, check for wear and tear. Examine the harness’s webbing for discoloration, fraying, loose stitches and hard spots. Hard spots can indicate heat damage. Make sure the braking mechanism on the self retracting lifelines actually works. Anchorage devices should be examined by qualified people on a regular basis.

Here are a few tips on donning a personal fall arrest system.

* Put it on like a jacket – over one arm and then the other.
* Adjust from the bottom up – make sure webbing isn’t twisted and the D ring is 3 to 6 inches below the neck.
* Secure the buckles.
* Test metal parts of connectors—the carabiners—to make sure they lock properly.
* And one final tip. Never carry anything sharp, like keys in your pocket. The webbing across the pocket could cause a puncture.

That’s all for this episode on Personal Fall Arrest Systems. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply.


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