Fall Arrest Restraint Systems Attachment Methods

Fall Arrest Restraint Systems Attachment Methods

When using any type of fall arrest system, you must know which type of attachment method you are going to use. By choosing the most appropriate and safety method you are able to work at heights very safely. By choosing the wrong method you can make even the simplest tasks extremely dangerous.

The methods described below have been taken directly from our height safety induction and training videos. These videos and our induction program is available via our site App or online training system. For more information about our safety systems and videos please contact us via our contact page

These four methods of attachment can’t be found in legislation or a standard. They have been developed by us over time from many years of experience as a way of quickly and easily training workers how to attach safely. By having set rules on how to attach we have found it greatly reduces the risk of a fall.

These instructions have been designed to be presented with our videos. So if you have trouble following the instructions this may be why. We have found that watching a demonstration video on how to correctly execute these methods increases the likelihood that the worker can attach and work safely by over 80%.

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The four methods of attachment are

  1. Fixed fall restraint
  2. Adjustable fall restraint
  3. Fall arrest, and the
  4. Constant attachment method (for anchors only)

Fixed Fall Restraint Method

The safest method of work when using a fall arrest system is to employ the fixed fall restraint method. This method involves  the use of a fixed length lanyard that cannot be adjusted and is shorter than the distance from the attachment point to the fall edge.

For example, using a fixed length 2m lanyard when the attachment point is positioned 3m or more from the fall edge.

When using the Fixed Fall Restraint method it is impossible for the worker to fall. This is the preferred method of attachment and is considered the safest.

Adjustable Fall Restraint Method

The Adjustable Fall Restraint Method is used when attaching to the attachment point with an adjustable rope line. Once attached to the fall arrest system and with no slack in your rope, carefully move towards the closest fall zone from the system and stop approximately 1m from the edge. Adjust your rope line and put slight pressure on the rope so there is no slack. Ensure you are no closer than approximately 1m from the edge.

Once you have determined the safe length of the rope, step 2m away from the edge, move the adjuster back 300mm and tie a figure eight knot where the adjuster had been. The knot limits the length of rope that can be used, allowing you to create a fixed safe length of rope from which will prevent you from being able to fall off the roof.

Now move the adjuster until it comes back in contact with the knot. Carefully move forward and check your rope line length and ensure you are a minimum of 1m away from the edge. You are now in Fixed Fall Restraint. The new length of the rope plus the worker from the system, is less than the distance from the system to the fall edge. Now you can work safely without the possibility of inadvertently adjusting your rope and exposing yourself to a fall.

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How to tie a figure 8 knot

To tie a figure eight knot, take the rope in both hands and make a pinch point that is approximately 300mm long. Take the top of the loop and pass it completely around the rope. Now thread the end of the rope through the loop you have just created and pull up.

Fall Arrest Method

When working within 1m of a fall zone, you will need to constantly assess your position and adjust your rope line accordingly to prevent yourself from being exposed to a fall.

This is known as the Fall Arrest Method. Working in fall arrest requires a high level of skill and concentration. Prior to working in fall arrest, you must set up your rescue system and have your rescue person on standby in the green zone (designated safe zone) supervising your work. If a fall was to occur, the rescue plan must be put into action immediately and should not take longer than five minutes.

To properly use the Fall Arrest method, once attached, move to within 1m of the edge. At this stage, it is vital that you determine the maximum length that you can adjust your rope line before you are exposed to a fall. To lessen the risk of a fall during this process, move to either one or both knees.

Once on your knees, carefully move towards the fall edge. Adjust your rope line so that you can reach your work area but are unable to fall off the roof. Due to the high risk of a fall when working so close to the edge, you must employ the safe adjustment method when readjusting your rope line. To do this slightly lean back towards your anchor point and away from the fall edge, so the tension is taken off your rope line. This movement also ensures that your centre of gravity is pointing you away from the fall edge. Now if you slip your movement will be away from the edge and not towards it. Adjust your rope line by no more than 300mm at a time. Release the adjustable rope grab testing that it has correctly locked onto the rope, turn and face square to the fall edge, hands in front of you and move forward until you have put tension on the rope. Assess your position. If you need to move further forward, determine how far this is and only move the adjustable rope grab this distance, repeating the Safe Adjustment Method. By employing this method you are controlling the risk of a fall while in the process of adjusting your rope length.

Never attempt to adjust your rope line while leaning forward in this position with the rope under tension. Immediately upon releasing the rope grab you will plunge forward in an uncontrolled manner which may result in a fall over the edge.

When working in fall arrest, even though you will constantly adjust your rope line so that you are not able to fall, the risk of an incident this close to the edge is extremely high.

For this reason, when working in fall arrest it is vital that you follow these six rules

  1. Always face towards the fall edge and if possible work on one or both knees
  2. Never allow slack in your rope line
  3. Never adjust your rope line when it is under tension
  4. Always use the safe adjustment method
  5. Never work alone and
  6. Have a rescue system ready for immediate deployment
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Diversion anchors

A Diversion anchor is a secondary attachment point positioned close to an edge that limits the risk of a pendulum fall.

To use a diversion anchor, while still attached to a primary anchor, move in a direct line towards the diversion. Upon reaching the anchor, drop to one knee and adjust your rope line so that the rope grab is past the diversion anchor. Now attach your rope line to the anchor eyelet via a karabiner. You can now move carefully forward to your work area. Ensure that you use one of the safe work methods already shown as you come to the edge.

The Constant Attachment Method

If the roof pitch is over 15degrees you must use the constant attachment method when moving around the roof if you are using anchor points only. One of the ways this can be achieved is by modifying your rope line into a twin tail rope.  

Once attached to the first anchor, move in a direct line until you reach the second anchor. Draw through approximately 1m of rope and mark the length of rope between the anchors. At this mark tie a figure 8 knot and attach you’re your rope line to the anchor via a karabiner.

Stand and walk back to the first anchor and disconnect your rope line. As you can see, you now have twin lengths of rope. Move to the closest fall edge and ensure that the rope lengths do not allow you to reach the edge of the roof. Now you can walk to the third anchor and attach. When walking back to anchor 2 ensure that you constantly adjust your rope line so that it remains under tension. Disconnect the karabiner and continue the process. By using this method you will remain connected at all times. However you must be aware that if the distance between the anchor points increases or decreases you must readjust your twin rope lengths to ensure you remain in fall restraint. 

summary

When working close to a fall edge and using a fall arrest system as your control measure, you must ensure that you employ the most appropriate and safe attachment method. Failure to follow the methods we have just demonstrated may result in a fall.  

Working at heights safety. It’s up to you!