The terminology surrounding fall protection systems may seem confusing, but it is important to understand the basic ins and outs of each in order to choose the fall protection system that is best for you.

The phrases “fall arrest” and “fall restraint” may seem like the same thing. While they both fall under the area of fall protection, there are important differences.

What is Fall Arrest?

An “arrest” occurs after a person freefalls through space. In other words, this type of system stops a person’s fall that has already occurred, preventing impact at a lower level.

What is Fall Restraint?

A fall restraint system restrains a person from reaching a fall hazard. In these cases, the fall restraint would typically be provided by a fixed-length lanyard and a body harness or body belt. The lanyard acts as a leash, preventing the worker from reaching the edge.

Fall Arrest vs. Fall Restraint

Below we will break down the pros and cons of each option. By understanding a person’s environment and the nature of the fall hazards they face, the process of choosing the right fall protection system should become straight forward.

Fall Arrest Pros

  • Allows workers to access more locations on site
  • Can be used in place of guardrails
  • Perfect when working in hard to reach areas

Fall Arrest Cons

  • Requires in-depth training to use
  • MUST be wearing the equipment correctly
  • Very individualized (would be hard to provide fall arrest for a large number of people)

Fall Restraint Pros

  • No training required
  • Passive fall protection (means they will not have to go out of their way to do anything i.e. guardrails & netting)

Fall Restraint Cons

  • Can make accessing some locations tricky