Fall protection systems
Fall protection systems are a must to prevent fatal accidents at work caused by falls from height. The number one killer hazard in any country is falling from heights. That is the reason why, fall protection systems are in the spotlight of HSO and National Labor Inspectorate. Reducing the huge amount of fatal accidents at work caused by falls from height is the top priority in most of the countries. In this article, we want to present you in detail how best to protect employees against falling from height in accordance with applicable regulations and standards.
Construction is one of the most dangerous sectors.
Accidents often occur during construction works, mainly due to the lack of appropriate fall protection systems and improper behaviour of employees. Therefore, collective protection equipment (CPE) is the most effective solution against falling from height. As passive fall arrest solutions, they exclude employee’s decision to secure themselves or not.
Due to the importance of the problem, there are more and more initiatives led by large construction companies to standardize the procedures and requirements for working at heights. It is also an attempt to prevent unfair differences between construction companies in this matter. i.e. avoiding competition based on the expense of the safety and health of company employees.
Collective protection equipment first
Fall protection systems based on collective protection equipment (CPE) are the most effective protection against falling from height. Thanks to this type of systems, safety on the construction site is always guaranteed because they exclude the employee’s decision to secure himself or not. In contrast to CPE, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) require the willingness of the worker to secure himself, but also the necessary knowledge for the use of the equipment. Sometimes it’s even about using specialized mountaineering equipment.
At this point, we should remember that Directive 89/391/EEC*, which sets out the principles of preventive action, prioritizes collective protection equipment (CPE) over personal protective equipment (PPE). The regulations clearly state that personal protective equipment (PPE) should only be used when it is not possible to use collective protective equipment (CPE).
* Council Framework Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of people at working place, Journal device EU L 183 of June 29, 1989, p. 1 as amended) defines the rules of preventive action also in the field of protection against falling from height.
Advantages of using collective protection equipment as a fall protection system?
Unlike personal protective equipment (PPE), collective protection equipment (CPE) ensures:
- safety work at heights does not depend on the employee’s decision or his skills in the use of specialized equipment. When entering the danger zone, the employee does not have to do anything to ensure his own safety.
- freedom of movement in the danger zone significantly affects the speed and efficiency of working at heights. When entering the danger zone, the employee does not have to waste time using protective equipment. He just needs to focus on doing his job. Fall protection systems are provided comprehensively.
- no costs and time associated with the need to conduct training in the use of specialized equipment.
How to choose the right fall protection system?
Each construction or area where safety at heights must be ensured requires a detailed analysis. When choosing a fall protection system, the type of hazard should be analysed first. Should people working at heights be secured? Is the goal to protect pedestrians or people working down the building from falling objects or tools?
As we wrote above, in the first place, we should always choose the appropriate collective protection equipment depending on the hazard. The legal regulations clearly state that personal protective equipment should only be used when it is not possible to install collective protective equipment.
Secondly, we need to analyse how to fix the fall protection system to the supporting structure and the constraints associated with the work carried out at the site. It may turn out that it is necessary to design a special fall protection system for a given construction, because the limitations and the possibility of fixing prevent the use of standard solutions.
We recommend you always buy roof protection systems certified by an independent notified body. In this way, you are sure that the system meets the requirements of the standard and its properties have been approved by an independent institution.
Depending on the type of hazard, we can choose the following fall protection systems:
Permanent protection systems designed to protect the roof based on collective protection equipment (CPE)
These types of fall protection systems are designed to protect the edges of roofs and terraces and to ensure safe access for people working on the roof. They are based mainly on the EN ISO 14122 standard. In this case, we are talking about:
Temporary security systems based on collective protection equipment (CPE)
These are fall protection systems based on the use of a safety net and temporary railings. As a passive safety system, safety nets allow you to protect the open edges of buildings without the need for worker intervention. Safety nets are an example of temporary collective protection. These are all fall protection systems certified on the basis of EN ISO 1263 and EN ISO 13374 standards.
In this case, we are talking about:
Permanent protection systems based on personal protective equipment (PPE)
These are fall protection systems installed mainly on the roofs of buildings to secure the access of people to the roof. They are mainly lifeline safety systems and anchor points certified in accordance with the EN ISO 795 standard. They are the cheapest fall protection systems available on the market. However, this saving at the design stage comes out very expensive in the later operation of the building.
We invite you to read more about this in our article on roof fall protection systems.
Temporary safety systems based on personal protective equipment (PPE)
Neglecting the duties in the field of protection against falls from height can end tragically, not only for employees but also for companies. The criminal and financial consequences of a fatal accident at a construction site can lead to the collapse of companies and the person responsible for safety to prison. Fall protection systems based on collective protection equipment are the most effective protection against falling from height because they exclude employee’s decision to ensure themselves or not. In addition, they increase the efficiency of work on the construction site.