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Fall Arrest Systems

A fall arrest system is an assembly of components and subsystems, including the necessary connectors, used to arrest the user in a fall from a working height and suspend the user until rescue can be effected. A fall arrest system must always include a full body harness (such as the Rose Pullover harness) and connecting means between the harness and an anchorage or anchorage connector. Such
connecting means may consist of a lanyard, energy (shock) absorber, fall arrester (rope grab), lifeline, self-retracting lanyard or qualified combinations of these.

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Suspension Systems

The suspension configuration permits workers to sit and work safely while elevated. Unlike the fall arrest configuration, the suspension configuration distributes the worker’s weight on areas of the body capable of bearing that weight for extended periods. 
A suspension system is designed to raise or lower and support a worker at an elevated work station. The connecting points of the system, such as shoulder or seat-strap D-rings, are NOT designed to properly distribute the impact forces that result in arresting a free fall. A suspension system alone cannot be relied upon to provide proper fall arrest protection; the worker must be properly attached to an independent fall arrest system if a free fall is a possibility.

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Restraint Systems

A restraint system is an assembly of components and subsystems, including the necessary connectors, used to: (a) stabilize and partially support the user at an elevated work location and allow free use of both hands. This type of restraint system is referred to as a work positioning system or, simply, a positioning system. (b) restrict the user’s motion so as to prevent reaching a location where a fall hazard exists. This type of restraint system is referred to as a travel restriction system.
A positioning system includes the user’s harness and connecting means between the harness and an anchorage or anchorage connector. Such connecting means usually consists of a positioning lanyard which is connected to both hip D-rings of the harness and wraps around or connects to an anchorage or anchorage connector. A positioning system must always be backed up by a fall arrest system. A travel restriction system consists of the user’s harness and a fixed length or adjustable length lanyard connected between any one of the harness D-rings and an anchorage or anchorage connector.

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Personnel-Riding Systems

A personnel-riding system provides a quick means of lifting or pulling the wearer out of a working environment. The system supports full body weight for a short period of time, but should not be used for suspension.
Vertical retrieval systems, which may incorporate a harness having two shoulder D-rings, are used frequently in confined spaces such as storage tanks or manholes which may pose potentially dangerous conditions. A retrieval system by itself, however, may not provide all the protection as worker requires. Fall arrest and/or restraint systems may also be required.


Approvals & Standards

There are numerous OSHA regulations and ANSI standards that apply to fall protection and confined space entry. The employer must understand these regulations and standards when selecting the appropriate fall protection and confined space entry/retrieval equipment. 

OSHA Regulations Under Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations

OSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards for General Industry

Subpart D, Walking/Working Surfaces

  • Fixed Ladders, Ladder Safety Devices 1910.27 (d) (5) 
  • Safety Requirements for Scaffolding, Boatswain’s Chairs 1910.28 (j) (4) 

Subpart I, Personal Fall Arrest Systems proposed

Subpart F, Powered Platforms and Building Maintenance 1910.66

Subpart J, Permit – Required Confined Space 1910.146

Subpart R, Special Industries 

  • Agricultural Operations 1910.267
  • Telecommunications 1910.268 
  • Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution 1910.269
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OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction

Subpart E, Personal Protective Equipment

  • Safety Belts, Lifelines and Lanyards 1926.104
  • Safety Nets 1926.105 

Subpart L, Scaffolding

  • Boatswain’s Chairs 1926.451 (1) 

Subpart M, Fall Protection 

  • Scope, Application and Definitions 1926.500 
  • Duty to Have Fall Protection 1926.501 
  • Fall Protection Systems Criteria and Practices 1926.502 
  • Training Requirements 1926.503 

Subpart R, Steel Erection 

OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Marine Terminals & Longshoring

ANSI Standards

Construction and Demolition Operations:

  • Requirements for Safety Belts, Harnesses, Lanyards & Lifelines for Construction and Demolition A10.14 – 1991 
  • Ladders – Fixed – Safety Requirements A14.3 – 1992 
  • Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces Z117.1 – 1989 
  • Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems Subsystems and Components Z359.1 –
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