Frequently Asked Questions
When should a Fall Arrest System be used?
When there is a risk to a user who may fall and cause injury to themselves.
What is a fall arrest system?
An easy way to remember the components of a fall arrest system is to use the ‘ABCDE’ method.
- A – Anchor Point
This is defined as the fall arrest rated point to which a worker can be tethered to carry out work safely.
- B – Body Harness
This is defined as an Australian Standards approved, full body harness (belts and lower torso harnesses are excluded from the standard for most industrial applications). Choosing the right harness for the type of work to be carried out, frequency of use, comfort levels, etc is critical to maintain user acceptance and compliance.
- C – Connector
A term used for a collective volume of hardware including hooks, karabiners and adjusters used between the harness and the anchor point.
- D – Decelerator
By law, every fall protection system must have an energy absorption component to minimise the impact of the force created during a fall on the body to less than 6kN (600kg).
- E – Emergency Rescue Procedure
The emergency rescue plan is an essential part of any site work plan. If a fallen worker is suspended for an extended period of time, they may be subjected to the dangerous and uncomfortable effects of suspension trauma.
How does height safety equipment help to reduce injury?
By either preventing you from falling (in restraint mode) or keeping the forces after a fall to less than 6kN (approximately 600kg).
At what height must fall arrest equipment be used?
It is recommended that fall protection equipment be worn above any height where a fall can result in injury. State regulatory requirements differ from 1.8m to 2.4m and should be consulted. Site or company requirements may also apply.
Why is the attachment point for fall-arrest usually located at the rear between the shoulders?
This position during a fall-arrest puts you in a vertical posture that helps to reduce injury in a fall.
What is the scheduled inspection period for harnesses, lanyards, inertia reels, static line systems & anchor points?
Six months for harnesses & lanyards. Twelve months for inertia reels, static line systems and anchor points in accordance with AS/NZS 1891.4. or as per the manufacturers requirements. For equipment used in harsh environments, a more frequent inspection policy is recommended. Harness based systems in WA require inspection every six months.
How long can PPE equipment such as harnesses, lanyards, ropes, etc be in service before it must be replaced?
The Australian Standard states that the maximum life of these products is ten (10) years from the date of manufacture, providing that all harness components remain in a serviceable condition during that time, and providing it passes every bi-annual inspection
How much load must an anchor point used for fall arrest be capable of sustaining?
15kN (approximately 1500kg), for one person, for two persons an anchor point must be rated to a minimum of 21kN (approximately 2100kg).
Is user training important?
User training is critical in the correct implementation and use of a fall protection plan. Effective use, care and maintenance of all fall arrest equipment can prevent the vast majority of incidents in any work place.
What are Five Principles of Fall Protection?
- Fall Arrest
A system which is designed to stop a free fall of a user and limit the maximum arresting forces imposed on the user to 6kN or less. (e.g. steel erection, suspended platform activities and elevated maintenance work).
- Work Positioning
A system which is designed to hold and sustain the user at a work location and limit the free fall to 600mm.
A system designed to prevent the user from reaching an area in which a fall could occur, thus free fall is impossible (e.g. leading edge roof work).
A system designed to suspend and support the user while being transported (raised up or down) vertically and does not allow free fall (e.g. bosuns chair work).
A system designed to raise or lower a user to safety in the event of an emergency, no fall possible (e.g. confined space work).
What is the process for laundering & Sanitising of RISsafety PPE fabric products, e.g. harnesses, lanyards, ropes, etc?
Laundering of PPE
RISsafety PPE products are approved for laundering under the following conditions:
- Only use a mild and neutral (bleach free) detergent (e.g. Lux pure soap flakes) such as one used for laundering clothing.
- Top or side loading washing machines (commercial or consumer type) are acceptable for cleaning web products.
- The product should be placed in a mesh laundry bag to prevent entanglement. The water temperature, when laundering, should not exceed 40°C.
- Once cleaned, the product should be hung up to air dry in a well ventilated area, out of direct sunlight and away from direct heat. Never use a mechanical heat or tumble dryer as both compromises the integrity of the webbing and stitching.
Refer to the RISsafety Quick Start Guide for details about Maintenance, Servicing, Storage and training (a copy of page 11 of this guide has been provided below).
Note that many webbing and stitching elements when exposed to chemicals found in many disinfectants may degrade and ultimately affect the product’s original design and strength.
Disinfecting and sanitising should be done after laundering the harness to remove dirt etc., e.g. if you are using a cleaning solution that includes the disinfectant then this should be done in two stages:
- Clean the equipment per the section Laundering of PPE above.
- Once cleaned of dirt etc. then clean with the sanitising agent to disinfect the item.
Store the item in a well ventilated area before use. RIS recommends that the harnesses are stored for a minimum of 72 hours due to the hard non-porous surfaces of the buckles and other hardware on the equipment(current scientific research suggests this is for a minimum period of 24 hours and could be as long as 72 hours, although this may change with more research into the COVID-19 virus).
The use of the following products are approved by RISsafety to sanitise RISsafety PPE products:
- Dettol Anti-Bacterial Laundry Sanitiser Natural Eucalyptus.
- Glen 20 Glen 20 disinfectant spray.
The disinfectant manufacturer’s instructions must be followed as there may be different instructions about how long you need to leave the disinfectant on a surface to be effective against COVID-19.
Note that it is recommended to confirm with the manufacturer of any cleaning solution in regards to its effectiveness against COVID-19. RISsafety provides no advice about this.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provides information about appropriate disinfectants for consumers, health professionals and healthcare facilities:
How do you create a Fall Protection Plan
Consider documenting and updating height safety procedures, especially when the work is unfamiliar, involves a high level of risk or is repetitive. A fall protection plan can help prevent injuries from occurring, prevent repeat injuries and show evidence of attempts to reduce injuries.
- People exposed to a risk of a fall Preventing unauthorised access to dangerous areas
- Personal fall arrest equipment
- Confined space work
- Swing fall hazards
- Work suspension practices
- Working slack and lanyard lengths
- First man up devices
- Distance between nearest obstacle below
- Permanent or temporary access
- Rope access
- Passive Systems
- Restraint systems, guardrails, scaffolds
- Personnel (safety nets)
- Suitable anchorages and anchorage straps
- Attachment connectors and attachment hardware
- Temporary horizontal lifelines
- Permanent engineered systems (Hammerhead safety rail, Strongrail, sliding anchor beams, davit arms, I beam trolleys)
- Training by a competent person
- Documentation by a qualified person
- Means of determining worker comprehension
- Inspection schedules and procedures
- Rescue equipment and procedures Back-up systems
What factors determine when a RISsafety PPE product is to removed from service
Remove height safety equipment from service and return to RIS when:
- Annual service and/or periodical inspection is due
- It has been involved in a fall
- Labels have been removed, are missing, illegible or obliterated
- Exposed to high temperatures, i.e. when left in a hot closed car, or evidence of melting or charring
- Exposed to extreme low temperatures or frozen. Some synthetic materials can permanently reduce their strength when exposed to temperatures above 55°C or UV radiation
- Acid, caustic or organic solvent burns
- Excessive abrasive wear(e.g. furry or frayed surface)
- Excessive general corrosion, any pitting corrosion, cracked, distorted, burred, worn or broken hardware
- Knots in any parts of the equipment Broken fibres, tear, cuts, snags and splinters
- Deterioration or stretching of any kind Sunlight degradation
- Weld burns
- Loss of resilience, discoloration or other visible damage that cause doubt as to the strength of the equipment of potential overloading
- Part mechanisms not moving freely
- Reduction in cross-section area of rope or webbing Loose or unraveling of fibres, strands or stitching
- Excessive contamination not removed by approved cleaning methods
- It is more than 10 years old
What are the requirements for the inspection of fall arrest system?
The Managing the risk of falls at workplaces Code of Practice issued by SafeWork Australia (October 2018) states:
Each component of the individual fall arrest system should be inspected by a competent person:
- after it is installed but before it is used
- at regular intervals, and
- immediately after it has been used to arrest a fall.
Inspection of components should be conducted in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and the relevant standards. If signs of excessive wear or other defects are found during the inspection those components should be withdrawn from use.
Who can inspect and recertify an anchor?
As per AS/NZS 1891.4 inspection and recertification of fall arrest items, such as anchors, should be carried out by persons trained as qualified Height Safety Equipment Inspectors.
Where can I find the latest information on the Acts, Standards and Codes that apply height safety and fall prevention?
Our Technical Information page is devoted to keeping you up to date with all of these regulations.
I need a copy of an Australian Standard. Where do I get this from?
What is the difference between fall arrest, fall prevention and fall restraint?
Fall prevention is the highest form of fall protection. This removes the risk of the worker falling by providing a barrier between them and the fall hazard. Common types of barriers used for this purpose includes handrail systems, parapet walls, etc.
Fall restraint systems restrict the movement of the worker to prevent the worker from reaching the fall edge. The lanyard is typically a fixed length or self-retracting that does not extend past the fall edge and it effectively acts like a leash preventing a fall arrest situation from occurring. Ropes or lanyard with adjustment can also be used where the worker is appropriately trained to use these types of systems.
Fall arrest systems arrest the fall of a worker in the event that they fall from a surface. This equipment does not prevent the worker from falling, with the worker most at risk from a fall compared to fall restraint. A rescue plan must be in place prior to any person using the fall arrest device to rescue the worker in the event they are involved in a fall.
What are my obligations as a building owner / manager in relation to working at height?
As a building owner or manager it is your responsibility to ensure that anyone who works at height on your buildings is doing so as safely as possible, including being responsible for sub-contractors and their workers.
A brief summary of your requirements as a building owner/manager are:
- Learn the Hierarchy of Controls for safely Working at Heights.
- Keep up to date with Industry Acts, Codes, Standards and Guidelines.
- Plan for the work tasks to be completed in a safe and compliant way, and ensure the workers follow this plan.
- Hold regular toolbox meetings to communicate the plan.
- Ensure all workers are fully trained and supervised.
- Inspect your access and fall protection equipment regularly.
- Review and update your working at height procedures and practices as appropriate for changes site conditions, expertise and experience or workers, and the works tasks to be completed.
What is a SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement)?
A Safe Work Method Statement is a document that is completed for all ‘high risk construction work’.
Working at heights is considered high risk and a SWMS is always required to be prepared before any work of this type is carried out.
Click this link for more information and to download a SWMS information sheet about SWMS Information Sheet (SafeWork Australia).
Why should I organise a height safety system audit on my building?
PCBUs (Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking), such as building owners, building managers, facility managers, and directors have a Primary Duty of Care to eliminate the risk of falls in the workplace, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
Your Duty of Care includes your workers, visitors to your site, and contractors and their employees. Many PCBU’s incorrectly believe that contractors do not fall under their scope of responsibility however it is your responsibility under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
With the introduction and updates in many states of Australia of Workplace Manslaughter Laws, failing to provide adequate safety for workers, especially when conducting high risk work such as working at height, can expose you to serious consequences such as fines and gaol sentences.
Organising an audit of your height safety systems will:
- Identify areas of concern by conducting a risk assessment
- Check your systems for compliance to Australian Standards and other relevant industry guidelines
- Ensure existing components and equipment have had recertification and inspections carried out as per manufacturer’s requirements
- Offer practical and compliant solutions in accordance with the hierarchy of control for working at height
Contact RISsafety on 02 8781 2100 or email@example.com to arrange an audit of your systems.
How can you tell if your height safety systems are compliant?
If your height safety systems have not been inspected or recertified in the last 12 months it is time to get them checked by a competent person trained in the systems you have on your buildings.
Height safety systems should be compliant to the relevant Australian Standards and Regulations at the time the systems are installed.
Standards and Regulations are sometimes updated, however these are not normally applied retrospectively which means that height safety systems installed that were compliant to the Standards when installed, continue to be able to be inspected and certified as compliant to the Standard applicable at the time of installation.
A competent Height Safety Specialist can conduct a height safety audit and will provide a report on your existing systems. They can also give you information of what action you may need to take to ensure compliance.
Contact RISsafety on 02 8781 2100 or contact us now to arrange an audit of your systems.
How can RISsafety help you with AS 1657 Standard compliant Access systems?
RISsafety design and manufacture a broad range of Standard compliant products that covers all aspects of AS1657
What applications/products does the AS 1657 Standard apply to?
This standard provides technical specifications and criteria for fixed platforms, walkways, guardrails, stairways, ladders and permanently configured (but movable) platforms that are used in the workplace.
What applications/products does the AS 1657 Standard not apply to?
Scaffolding; access for people with disabilities; temporary access, e.g. by means of portable ladders; access and egress to buildings covered by the National Construction Code (NCC); attic type ladders; access to lift machine rooms.
What solutions should be installed when both step-type and rung-type ladder are fit for the site?
The means of access shall be considered in the following hierarchical order:
1. Level walkway (0° to 3° from the horizontal).
2. Sloping walkway with an angle between 3° and 20° in the direction of travel.
3. Stairs with an angle between 20° and 45°
4. Inclined step-type ladders with an angle between 60° and 70°.
5. Inclined twin-stile rung-type ladders with an angle between 70° and 90°.
6. Single stile rung-type ladders with an angle between 85° and 90°.
7. Individual-rung ladders (step-irons) with an angle between 80° and 90°.
When should a Ladder, Step Ladder or Stair be installed in accordance with AS 1657 Standard?
Access where the difference in height exceeds 450mm, a ladder/step ladder or stair shall be in installed in accordance with the requirements of AS/NZS 1657 Section 7.
Where the difference in height is greater than 300mm but does not exceed 450mm, a minimum of one intermediate step shall be provided.
If the difference in height is less than 300mm, an intermediate step may not be required.
When are guardrails required to be installed on platforms?
Guardrailing shall be installed on exposed sides of platforms and landings, and all sides and ends of a walkway except for the following:
(a) At the points of access from a stairway or ladder.
(b) Where there is a permanent structure not more than 100 mm from the edge of the platform, landing or walkway capable of providing at least the equivalent protection to guard railing.
(c) On the sides and edges of a platform or a walkway that is not greater than 300 mm above that of an adjacent platform or floor, provided:
For platforms and landings:
(i) the smallest dimension of the upper platform is not less than 1200 mm; and
(ii) the distance from any edges of the unprotected upper platform to the protection on the edge of the lower platform is not less than 1000 mm.
(iii) the slope of the walkway perpendicular to the direction of travel (cross-slope) does not exceed 3°;
(iv) the angle of slope of the adjacent area is less than 12°; and
(v) the width of the area adjacent to the walkway is greater than 2000 mm.
What is the minimum height of guardrails under the AS/NZS 1657 Standard?
The height of a handrail shall be not less than 900mm and not greater than 1100 mm, and the maximum gap between a handrail and a knee rail or between any intermediate rails shall not exceed 450mm.
If your question has not been answered above, please get in touch with us. We’d love to help you.