Fall Protection: The ABCDEs
Protection from heights requires planning & insight
What are the ABCDEs of fall protection?
A personal fall arrest system (PFAS) has several components and considerations. These are sometimes called the “ABCDEs” and they include the following elements.
- A: Anchorage or Anchor point. This is the point of attachment for the lanyard, the lifeline, or the deceleration device. These can be fixed points or mobile anchorage points capable of supporting 5,000 lbs or twice the expected load. Examples include supported I-beams, scaffold, piping and other approved points.
- B: Body Harness. The body harness distributes the fall arrest force over 5 points; the chest, thighs, waist, pelvis & shoulders. Harnesses need to fit securely so that any force is distributed evenly. The connecting D-ring in a properly fitted harness should be located between the shoulder blades
- C: Connector. The connector is the device used to link the body harness to the anchor point. Connectors include lanyards, restraints, and self-retracting lifeline (SRLs) cables connecting the harness D-ring with the anchor point.
- D: Deceleration device. A deceleration device is designed to limit the force exerted during a fall. Decelerators either lock up (like a car seat belt), such as an SRL, or they slowly tear out to reduce the force (shock absorber).
- E: Effective Plan for Rescue. Suspension trauma occurs when an individual is left suspended from a deployed PFAS for a prolonged period. Blood flow is reduced or trapped in the legs, which can affect the brain & other vital organs. An effective rescue plan ensures a suspended person is promptly rescued if their PFAS deploys.