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 3933.

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“Penoguard is lightweight and easy to use with engineered safety. When access is required the quick and easy fold down frames are raised, eliminating the gravitational risk and when closed the system can be locked off to prevent any unauthorised access. We recommend Penoguards fit for purpose in this application and commend C&V Engineering for providing the solution to our problem”.
Eric Randell- Site Supervisor
Bovis Lend Lease

-- Eric Randell
Site Supervisor
Bovis Lend Lease