Retractable or rope grab systems for industrial sites: What are my options?

Using Work Restraint & Fall Arrest Systems

Retractable or rope grab systems for industrial sites: What are my options?

Choosing the right fall protection systems for your premises.

When work needs to take place at heights or near fall edges, appropriate height safety systems are essential for worker safety and compliance with legal standards.

However, it is not always clear to businesses which fall protection systems are the most appropriate for a particular industrial site.

Here is our advice on the advantages and disadvantages of rope grab and retractable fall arrest systems. Get the right advice on fall protection systems for your premises.

Using work restraint and fall arrest systems

In general, it is preferable to use work restraint systems, which prevent personnel from getting close to a fall edge, instead of fall arrest systems, which keep personnel safe in a fall but do not prevent them.

In some cases, it may not be possible to restrain workers from fall edges at all times. If this is the case, you will need fall arrest systems as part of your height safety equipment.

Two of the most common fall arrest systems are rope grab systems and retractable fall arresters.

Rope grab systems

Rope grab systems work as both a work restraint and fall arrest system. They are used when the distance between the anchor point and the work location varies or is more than two metres. When this is the case, a longer lanyard is used and the operator must use a rope grab to manually limit the length of the rope and prevent falls.

While this system is safe and compliant, there is an inherent risk factor in that it requires the operator to use the system correctly. This system, therefore, can only be used by trained and qualified personnel.

However, it is possible that even a qualified operator will forget or use the rope grab incorrectly. Because of this, these systems must also use a personal energy absorber to ensure operator safety in the event of a fall.

Advantages Disadvantages
Height safety compliant
Functions as a work restraint and fall arrest system
Adjustable to work at the required length
Potential for user error

Retractable fall arrest systems

Retractable fall arresters use an automatic mechanism to keep a taut connection between the operator and the anchor point or static line at all times. This means that the operator does not need to manually adjust the length of the rope as they move.

While fall arresters are more convenient to operate than rope grab systems, they cannot be used as a work restraint unless at their maximum range. Instead, they work as a fall protection system.

This makes retractable fall arresters particularly useful for premises where work restraint systems are not appropriate for the work being carried out.

Advantages Disadvantages
Height safety compliant
Connection is taut at all times
Automatically extends and retracts
Does not function as a work restraint

Choosing fall protection systems for your premises

A qualified height safety professional is required to recommend and install appropriate height safety systems for your premises.

At Australian Height Safety Services, we have a great deal of industry experience and expertise. We can inspect your premises and recommend the best fall protection systems for your site.

For more information on our height safety products and services, contact us here or call the AHSS team onĀ 03 9718 0322.

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