Fall Protection Defined

Fall Protection Defined

25th September 2014

There are two types of fall protection measures - collective and personal.  Personal fall protection equipment is that which needs the individual concerned to act in order to be effective.  For instance, a worker must put on a safety harness correctly and then connect it via an energy-absorbing lanyard to a suitable anchor point.  Collective fall protection equipment does not need the person working at height in order to be effective.  Permanent guardrails, tower scaffolds and scissor tilts are all examples of collective fall protection equipment – in as much as they offer protection without the interaction of the individual using the equipment.

The definition of a working platform was given in the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) and now describes any surface from which work can be carried out, these include:

  • a floor
  • a roof
  • the treads of a stepladder
  • a platform on a scaffold
  • a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP)

Whatever type of fall protection equipment is in use, collective of personal, it’s vital that it is appropriately examined before each use in order to ensure that it has been maintained correctly and is in good working order.  Working at height is a risky undertaking and it’s vital that rules and regulations are strictly adhered to and that those whose job includes working at height have undergone the requisite training.

However, fall protection is just part of the safety equation – let’s take a look at fall prevention.  Think about it – would you rather build a fence at the top of a cliff or would you rather park an ambulance at the bottom?  The fence is the most logical solution and the safest, you’ll agree.  That’s why fall prevention is just as powerful as fall protection.  Fall protection helps to protect workers from injuries.  If we take this one step further, the most effective way of dealing with risk is to eliminate it where possible. 

Innovative fall prevention solutions have been changing the construction industry and making it safer.  New products are becoming available which help to make falls much less frequent with cutting edge design and materials.

Widespread education is also having its effect and lowering the rate of fall injuries in the UK.   Keeping up to date with health and safety training and legislation is a must for all workers in Britain, not just those in the construction industry.  Employers are obligated to provide health and safety training that is appropriate to both the workplace and the industry.  Strict regulation is also making inroads on decreasing the number of accidents and injuries in the workplace.

July 2014 figures show that the number of workers killed in the UK last year has fallen to an all-time low and fatalities in the construction industry in particular are down.  However, the most common injury when somebody is killed at work is a fall from height so more education on safety will not go amiss – these figures can always be reduced further.  Making Britain a safer place to work is the responsibility of all of us and we all need to play our part whether we’re employers or employees.