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Fall Protection Equipment

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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A necessity in many types of environment, fall protection equipment can help reduce the number of fatal and near fatal accidents in the workplace. Every year, there are hundreds of accidents that are the result of unsafe working conditions and improper training, making unnecessary falls the third largest cause of job-related injury. Employing the proper fall protection equipment and training can dramatically reduce these numbers.

The most common preventative system is a personal fall protection system. Prior to 1998, there were two common systems of personal fall protection systems, those that utilized a body belt, and those that incorporated a body harness. Body harnesses distribute the arrest force--the force delivered on a person by the fall protection equipment during deceleration--more evenly across the torso, instead of concentrating the force around the abdomen. Because of their superiority in design, body harnesses became the more popular option, and since January 1998, body belts have been prohibited by most governing safety regulations.

Reducing Fall Arrest Forces With Quality Fall Protection Equipment

Even with the use of a body harness, fall arrest forces can reach up to 1800 pounds of force. In order to counteract these large forces, shock-absorbing lanyards are often incorporated into the personal fall protection system. Shock absorbing lanyards are often built around a core material that will expand smoothly when a load is applied, which insures that forces are applied more evenly through the period of deceleration. Quality lanyards can halve arrest forces, resulting in the application of no more than 900 pounds of force to the body.

Another option for a personal fall protection system is a tieback lanyard. Tieback lanyards are specially designed to withstand the abrasive forces of being wrapped around a beam, and high-quality tie back lanyards also incorporate a specialized snap hook. Many common snap hooks present unnecessary dangers when a load is applied to the face or side of the snap hook gate, but some snap hooks engineered for tie-back systems are designed to withstand immense forces (up to 5000 pounds of force) from any angle.


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