Choosing The Right Fall Protection System
Falling from roofs and other high points is the leading cause of fatalities and serious injury
on Australian construction sites. Fall protection systems are legally required and are crucial for safeguarding the
lives of workers, and providing peace of mind for them and their families. However, it is essential to choose the
correct type of fall protection system. A system that is not right for the particular situation in which it is
being employed is worse than useless, as it gives a false sense of security.
Fall protection systems can be classified in different ways. Broadly there are two types of
system: fall arrest, designed to arrest a fall which is actually happening, and fall restraint, intended to prevent
a person from falling in the first place. Systems can also be active or passive. An active fall protection system,
or personal fall protection system, requires the active involvement of the user in order to be effective, while
passive systems do not.
Passive fall protection systems usually take the form of guardrails or safety nets and
PenoGuard™ is a perfect example of a high quality fall protection system.. A guardrail should be no further than 8
cm from the worker and should be around 110 cm in height, with an opening no wider than 48 cm. The rail must not be
constructed of any material that could cause injury to anyone falling against it, and must be able to withstand a
weight of at least 90 kilograms. The PenoGuard™ system is extremely versatile, lightweight, portable and assembles
in minutes to provide the ultimate in unguarded penetration safety.
If a safety net is used, it must be placed no more than 10 metres below where the workers are
situated. Nets must be tested every six months, by dropping on them a bag weighing around 200 kilograms from the
highest distance at which workers are located.
Personal fall protection systems are beginning to be used more and more, as technology develops.
A common type of system consists of a body harness with an anchor point and a lifeline or connector. Anchors can be
attached to structures such as I-beams, although increasing use is being made of counterweight anchors, which do
not need to be attached to anything. A problem with I-beam systems is that the tracks become dirty very easily,
costing thousands of dollars in cleaning and inspection. A useful alternative is a rigid track system, as the
enclosed track means that the problem of cleaning and inspection is eliminated.
The body harness is a body support unit that is designed to ensure that the force of the fall is
distributed evenly across all areas of the body, rather than affecting a specific part. Modern harnesses have
padding for added comfort, and often have quick-connect buckles to make them easier to put on. As well as the
harness and connector, the fall protection system will also include a deceleration device, such as a
self-retracting lanyard, to slow down the fall.
In addition to ensuring that the right fall protection system is provided, training is also
essential. Fall protection training includes the correct use of systems, understanding and recognition of fall
hazards. Nothing is more important than protecting a fellow workers life and no expense is too great to ensure that
every possible precaution is put in place.
PenoGuard™ is one of the leading fall protection devices that when in the closed position can
serve as a cover for access holes and in the open position becomes a 4 sided guard rail allowing easy access to the
penetration while protecting everyone nearby.
For more information on PenoGuard™ and its application in your work environment be sure to contact us on 02 9667