Fall arrest

Lesson Progress:

Fall-arrest systems include soft-landing systems, safety netting, crash decks and safety harnesses.

  • If falls cannot be prevented then the risk of injury must be minimised.
  • Arresting falls by means of harnesses and fall-arrest lanyards must be considered as a last resort and is only acceptable when other methods (further up the work at height hierarchy of controls) have been considered and ruled out.
  • The safe system of work must contain a procedure for emergency rescue.


Fall restraint and fall-arrest harnesses are a type of personal protective equipment (PPE), and should only be used if falls cannot be prevented by physical barriers or minimised by using collective arrest systems (soft-landing systems, such as nets or airbags).

  • Harnesses can be used to prevent a fall from occurring (fall restraint) and to minimise the consequences of a fall (fall arrest). Fall restraint is preferred to fall arrest (it is better to prevent the fall than arrest it).
  • Choosing the correct type of harness and lanyard to be used is vital. Your employer should take into account where it is being used, how far the wearer may fall, any obstructions they may hit and any pendulum effect (swinging from side to side after the fall has been arrested).
  • You must receive formal training before using a harness and lanyard.
  • It is vital you know how to inspect a harness for damage, how to fit it properly, where to attach it and where not to attach it.
Never use a harness to work at height unless you have been trained.

A harness and lanyard could be all that prevents you from falling to your death. Make sure you clip on to a suitable anchorage point at all times.

There must be an effective rescue plan in place in case a person wearing a harness falls.

  • They will need to be rescued quickly.
  • When someone’s fall is arrested and they are suspended in a harness they can experience a condition known as suspension syncope (where the person suspended faints and could suffer further complications).
If a person has been suspended in a harness, for any length of time, an ambulance MUST be called, for a professional medical assessment.