Fall arrest vs fall restraint: What is the difference?

Fall arrest versus fall restraint

If you can’t avoid working at height or if collective solutions (such as barriers or guardrails) are unsuitable, then a Personal Fall Protection System (PFPS) is your best bet.

Both Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest systems are Personal Fall Protection Systems and they must be designed to a Fall Arrest standard.

These systems include horizontal lifelines, fixed anchor points or portable anchor points.

Fall arrest vs fall reatraint


What is Fall Restraint?

Fall Restraint systems prevent you from falling.

They use a body holding device connected to a reliable anchor, preventing you from reaching zones where the risk of fall exists.

Fall restraint is sometimes referred to as ‘Restraint’ or a ‘Work Restraint’ system.

When should you use it?

In the hierarchy of controls, Restraint is preferred to Fall Arrest.

Sometimes, due to restricted free fall distances (e.g. low building height, vehicles, racking or machinery in or around the building reducing available height to have the fall arrested safely), a Restraint system would be the only choice.

Typically, a Restraint system is simpler to use than a Fall Arrest system and is therefore more likely to be used.

Compared to a Fall Arrest system, Fall Restraint does not require a rescue plan.

Fall arrest vs fall restraint


What is a fall arrest system?

Fall Arrest systems protect you after you fall: they stop the fall before you hit the surface.

These systems use a body holding device connected to a reliable anchor; they arrest and restrict a fall preventing you from colliding with the ground or structures, whilst limiting the forces on the body.

When should you use it?

When you are working near a fragile surface, narrow ledge or unusual building or roof shape and are using lanyards or a rope, there is a good chance you might fall off or into the building.

This is when you need a Fall Arrest system, together with personal protective equipment (PPE). You also need additional training and, by law, you are required to have a rescue plan in place. This means that you can be retrieved as soon as possible should you fall.

Compare both systems

Fall Restraint Fall Arrest
How does it protect? Prevents people from reaching a fall hazard through a tie off system. Stops a fall that is in progress through a tie off system.
Needed equipment Custom fitted equipment Custom fitted equipment
Training needed Yes, extensive and ongoing Yes, extensive and ongoing
Inspection Must be inspected and cared before and after every use. Must be inspected and cared before and after every use.
Potential for injury Mild High
Costs Lower initial costs but hidden costs might be: training, equipment maintenance, and setup time Lower initial costs but hidden costs might be: training, equipment maintenance, and setup time
Burden to labourer Must inspect and properly wear their equipment Must inspect and properly wear their equipment
EU Directive preference Better than fall arrest Only use as a last resort
Example products A harness and lanyard tied off at a set length from a weighted tie off point A harness and retractable tied off to an anchor point

Explore our range of fall protection solutions

These safety systems will help reduce the risk of fall protection hazards on and around a building:

Kwik Kit barriers

Do you need additional protection?

According to the 'Hierarchy of control', it is better to provide collective fall protection options. Collective fall protection systems include guardrails or skylight protections.

Still not sure which one you need? Get in touch

If you need any advice about choosing the correct system, would like to discuss your working at height requirements or have a safety related question, please get in touch.

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