What Is ‘Fall Restraint’?

Categories: Working At Height Tags: Restraint Systems

Working in restraint allows an operative the access and mobility required to reach the leading edge and carry out their tasks whilst being prevented from potentially falling.


There are 3 main types of restraint equipment found on construction sites:


A lanyard of a specific length preventing access beyond the fall hazard.


A line with mechanical adjustment allowing the operative to personally adjust their equipment – for packages where edge exposure is not a constant distance from the anchorage.


A horizontal lifeline used in conjunction with personal adjustable restraint – ensuring the anchorage remains directly behind the operative preventing pendulum.


The most fundamental difference between the two methods of work is the fall potential. Fall arrest allows the operative to fall and then ‘arrests’ this fall. Restraint, when used correctly, prevents the fall occurring. Working in restraint significantly reduces the risk of falling and therefore all the issues related to fall hazards.


Restraint greatly reduces the load (pull) applied to the operatives body compared to using an inertia reel (fall arrest block).

“Part of attention to detail is for the supervisor to assume a good point of observation.”


Keep in mind that the regulations stipulate a supervisor may not put himself in danger when choosing his point of observation. For example, observing gutter work by posting oneself on a roof might be acceptable if the supervisor is properly tethered and has full vision of the work being done. But if operatives dip below the eave, it would be imprudent for a supervisor to move to the edge of the roof in order to see the work. That would be putting himself in danger just to maintain his point of observation.

Although all the detail of the work might not necessarily be observable from the ground, such a scenario would dictate the supervisor moved to ground level in order to observe work done on the eaves. Perhaps if the building had a second-floor window with a decent view a supervisor could move to that room. The point is, supervisors need to watch out for their own safety as well as that of their workers. They are just as prone to falling from height if they are careless in determining a point of observation.


It is the duty of every employer to include guidelines for rescue operations as part of an initial safety inspection and subsequent plan. Rescue operations are undertaken when an operative is injured, suspended in a harness after a fall or stuck on an elevated platform. It is the responsibility of the site supervisor to make sure anything needed for the proper execution of rescue plans is available in an easy and timely manor. In the event of such rescue plans being put into operation the supervisor plays an integral role.

Rescue operations are one area in which many company safety officers are lax. They assume that proper planning and safety procedures will significantly reduce the potential of accidents, and rightfully so, but it’s not possible to prevent every single accident. There will be times when equipment fails and workers make mistakes. It is during those times when safety officers and supervisors need to go into action in order to safely rescue a stranded worker. Remember relying on the Emergency services is not a plan!

We have supplied here some of the basic guidelines and requirements for supervising working at height. Obviously, in so few words it’s not possible to cover everything involved in being such a supervisor. If your company does conduct working at height activities you owe it to both your supervisors and workers to make sure everyone knows safety regulations and procedures and implements them properly. You also owe it to your workers to make sure your supervisors are competent and fully trained.