Falling. It’s one of mankind’s most primal fears, awaking ancient feelings of helplessness in the face of merciless nature. The possibility of falling is a constant reminder that we are not in control of our world, one that becomes all the more threatening the older we get. But a fall at home in old age is outside of our control or influence. A fall on the job, however, is one of the main things we work to prevent here at Enviro. We offer a staggering array of different fall protection products that address different support configurations.
The situation you’re working in at height determines what kind of fall protection you will need. You may or may not have an anchor point in front or above you to attach your system to. What kind of plane of motion do you need to get the job done? Will a single vertical ascent system suffice, or do you need to cross a horizontal distance? I’ll outline some protection options designed for these situations.
First, you have your arrest harness. It’s a system of nylon or polyester straps that physically support your body in the event of a fall. You lose your grip, or slip, or whatever happens, and the straps will hold you in midair as you wait to be rescued. You don’t want to dangle there too long, as extremely negative effects can occur from the pressure the straps put on your muscles and blood vessels. The harness attaches to the arrest system with a D-ring, which can be found on the front or back depending on what style of harness fits your needs best. After a harness is involved in a fall, it should be put out of service immediately and discarded. It’s tempting to use it again to save money and the trouble of getting a new one, but the trauma a harness incurs in a fall usually compromises the material and makes it unuseable. Even if a harness were to fall without being damaged, it’s not worth the risk to use it again. Many harnesses have some kind of indicator that shows if fall trauma has been incurred by the product.
A self-retracting lifeline (SRL) attaches to the harness on one end, and the line is coiled into a plastic-encased spool that clips onto an anchorage point overhead. From there it basically functions like a seatbelt; it has a motion sensor that locks down the mechanism if it’s unspooling too fast, halting the fall. Most SRLs feature internal shock absorption technology to prevent injury from the sudden halt of forces generated by falling. Different SRLs have slightly different features and accordingly various price tags.
Say you’re on a rebar frame for a building that’s going up. You don’t have just one spot you need to be to do your work, but many spread horizontally across a distance. Rather than go down each time and move your SRL, get one with twin legs. It looks very different from a standard SRL, but it works the same. The spools are attached to the chest rather than the structure, and the two legs with hooks on the end allow you to gradually move from one point to the next, without losing anchorage.
There’s more to talk about in fall protection. Stay tuned for the next post.