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Posted on: October 24, 2012 By: Trevor Atherton, Safety Mgr

Personal Fall Arrest Systems (Part 2)

Planning your fall protection system and how it will be used before starting your work is extremely important.  Consider all factors that will affect your safety before, during and after a fall.


  • Anchorage points shall be capable of supporting at least 5,000 lbs.
  • When more than one personal fall arrest system is attached to the same structure, the strength requirements stated above must be multiplied by the number of personal fall arrest systems attached to the structure.
  • Anchorages used for attachment of a personal fall arrest system shall be independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms.
  • Guardrails shall not be used as anchorage points.  Guardrails are only required to support 200 lbs of force.

Free Fall

  • OSHA requires that the maximum arresting force to be place on an employee not exceed 1,800 lbs.  To achieve this personal fall arrest systems must be rigged so the potential free fall is never greater than 6 ft.
  • Avoid working above the anchorage point to avoid increased free fall distance and avoid slack line.
  • Avoid working where your line may cross or tangle with that of other workers or objects.
  • Do not allow lifeline to pass under arms or between legs.
  • Never clamp, knot, or prevent the lifeline from retracting or being taut.
  • Do not lengthen Self Retracting Lifeline by connecting a lanyard or other component without consulting the manufacture.

Swing Falls

Swing falls occur when the anchorage point is not directly above the point where a fall occurs.  The force of striking an object in a swing fall may cause serious injury.  In a swing fall, the total vertical fall distance will be greater than if the user had fallen directly below the anchorage point, thus increasing the total free fall distance and the area required to safely arrest the user.  The self-retracting lifeline will activate regardless of its orientation relative to the user.  The recommended work zone represents the typical acceptable work area for most application.  Review you specific application to determine what the appropriate work zone should be.  Minimize swing falls by working as directly below the anchorage point as possible.  Never permit a swing fall if injury could occur.  If a swing fall situation exists in you application contact the manufacture before proceeding.

Fall Clearance

Ensure adequate clearance exists in your fall path to prevent striking an object.  A minimum of 6 feet from the working level to the lower level or nearest obstruction is recommended.

Sharp Edges

Avoid working where the lifeline will be in contact with or abrade against unprotected sharp edges.  Provide protection for the lifeline when possible.


A rescue plan and ability to implement a rescue shall be in place before an employee uses a personal fall arrest system.


Double locking snap hooks and carabineers should never be connected:

  • To a D-ring to which another connector is attached.
  • In a manner that would result in a load on the gate.
  • In a false engagement, where features that protrude form the snap hook or carabineer catch on the anchor and without visual confirmation seems to be fully engaged to the anchor point.
  • To each other.
  • Directly to webbing or rope lanyard or tie back, unless the manufacture states it can be used for this application.
  • To any object which is shaped or dimensioned such that the snap hook or carabineer will not close and lock, or that roll out could occur.

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