Fall arrest vs fall restraint: What is the difference?
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.
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.
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:
Ground based handrailsA weldless, extremely durable, easy-to-install ground-based handrail solution that can be configured in any way you need. Made of either galvanised steel or aluminium. Explore this product
Upright protectorsThese yellow upright barriers will help you avoid collisions into walls, corners, racking units, posts and pipes. Highly visible. Made of galvanised steel and fittings. Requires no fabrication on site. Explore this product
Roof edge protectionA modular free standing system which does not penetrate the roof membrane. Easy to install and configure.Explore this product
Dead weight anchorsA non-penetrating, portable, deadweight anchor system designed for use on roofs with up to a 5 degree pitch. Explore this product
Self-closing industrial safety gatesKee Gate is a solid, industrial safety gate built to meet the requirements of BS EN ISO 14122-3:2016. Available in a variety of sizes and finishes. Explore this product
Step-over platformsActing as bridges over obstacles such as pipes and industrial machinery. Can be used on as variety of roof types, from membrane, concrete or metal. Available off-the-shelf or as a custom design. Explore this product
Full height gatesA full height self closing industrial safety gate that uses a spring loaded mechanism for opening and closing. Suitable to use at the top of ladders. Explore this product
Freestanding hatch coversSelf-assembled guardrail kits designed to protect skylights and prevent hazards on rooftops.Explore this product
Rooftop walkwayProvides a safe, anti-slip, level walking surface for anyone who needs to access a roof in the course of their work.Explore this product
Fixed lifelinesA wire based personal protection system for situations where guardrails are not suitable or where planning considerations require a barely visible fall protection solution. Explore this product
Roof edge protection for corrugated metal roofsProvides a simple solution when collective edge protection is the preferred safety option for metal profile and standing seam roofs up to a 45 degree pitch.Explore this product
Roof light coversDesigned to provide a visible, safe, non-fragile surface on metal profile in-line roof skylights.Explore this product
Do you need additional protection?
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.