The Difference Between Active and Passive Fall Protection

Passive Fall Protection

The Difference Between Active and Passive Fall Protection

High altitudes are one of the biggest health and safety threats for construction sites. Using effective safety procedures and equipment is fundamental to creating any safe work environment where heights pose a fall risk to workers, but implementing the right protection demands some important decisions to be made.

The first question asked will likely be whether active or passive fall protection systems will be required for the workplace – but what exactly are these? What is the difference between these two systems, and how do you know which is required?

This blog outlines the basics of fall protection and safety, defining the terms ‘passive protection’ and ‘active protection’. If your worksite is in need of fall protection systems, make sure you’re choosing the right equipment – contact Australian Height Safety Systems today to get everything you need to keep safety a priority.

Fall Safety Priorities


Fall protection is one of the most vital aspects of workplace health and safety. With strict guidelines in place, it is the top priority of an employer to ensure that every worker on site is protected from any potential hazard they may encounter.

When it comes to working at significant heights, this is more important than ever. Beyond the fines, delay in productivity, and reputational damage that could be caused after an accident, failing to mitigate falls and trips from any height may cause serious injury to employees.

Ideally, precedence should be given to full elimination of any fall safety hazards in a workplace. Where possible, priority should be given to minimising the number of threats to safety – however, this isn’t always possible.

All workplaces practicing top-quality safety techniques need to implement extensive protection systems wherever work at an altitude is required. Ideally, the site should be secured by passive fall protection systems, but where these cannot do the job as necessary escalation to active fall protection systems may be required.

What is Passive Fall Protection?


Simply put, a passive fall protection system is a stationary, immobile safety measure that requires no interaction to function properly after instalment. These tend to cover things like netting, guardrails, and handrails.

The biggest perk of a passive fall protection system is that once it’s set up, it doesn’t matter whether you are paying attention to it or going about your job without a second thought – with no active mechanisms or moving parts, passive protection will keep you safe. A rail will be ready to stop a fall and netting will catch you no matter where your attention is.

What is Active Fall Protection?

Active fall protection is just the opposite. These systems often require both special gear/equipment to be effectively used, as well as demanding active participation from the workers using the system. They are dynamic, mobile, and more complicated to use than standard passive systems.

Active fall protection can include both fall restraint and fall arrest systems, but all share the common factor of securing workers to an anchorage point through the use of a harness. Fall restraints tend to use fixed-length lanyards to prevent a worker from going over a ledge, whilst fall arrest system lanyards are designed to stop a falling worker from forceful impact on lower levels.

Active systems include:

  • Immovable point fall protection systems
  • Vertical fall protection systems
  • Horizontal fall protection systems

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Good fall safety procedures are the backbone of any great workplace. When it comes to choosing the right fall protection equipment, you don’t want to leave any doubt that you’ve got all the correct gear for your site and employees.

At Australian Height Safety Systems, we understand all the rules, regulations, and procedures that need to be followed to ensure the safety of every single worker. If you’re looking for fall safety protection for a project of any size, contact us today for personalised advice and a free quote.

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