What are fall arrest systems?

When working at height, there is the inherent danger that someone could fall, and that the fall could cause an injury. It’s common sense that the higher you are, the more injury could be caused and so it’s essential all risks are mitigated.

There are two ways of preventing such injuries and these are fall prevention and fall arrest. Usually, however, both methods are utilised.

Although it’s obvious that preventing a fall should be high on anyone’s safety checklist, in some cases it may not be practically possible. For example, some work has to take place in areas where the operator will be at risk, for example working in a tree, or on a gantry. In such cases, access may be inhibited if fall prevention equipment were in place, making the danger worse. In these cases, fall arrest systems are essential.

At Worlifts, we have been supplying industry with height safety solutions for decades, and so we have a lot of experience in ensuring the correct equipment is used in the right places. Our fall arrest systems have been used in many civil engineering projects.

How does fall arrest work?

If you can’t prevent a fall, then the next best thing is to make sure that fall is stopped before injury can be caused. However, in stopping a fall, you don’t want to cause more injury. For example, if you’re falling from a height and you just have a rope around your waist, the rope will not absorb any of the energy from the fall when it eventually pulls taut, and you could be seriously injured.

A properly specified active fall arrest system will slow the fall and absorb some of that energy, meaning the operator stays safe at all times.

How does Worlifts help?

Ensuring health and safety at work is our number one priority when specifying the correct system for your needs. There are various stages to specifying the best way to work at height, for example:

Prevention – Can a fall be prevented in the first place? This is obviously the most desirable as it stops there being any risk to the operator at all, and is the safest in overall operation. However, if safety systems themselves cause restrictions to working, then this itself could be a danger.

Passive arrest – Hard to justify in many cases, but is netting or fall arrest matting the best option?

Active arrest – Harnesses, lanyards and inertia blocks which can absorb the energy of the fall and reduce its impact. These are usually the most flexible systems for working at height.

Of course, you should also plan in to mitigate any consequences of a fall, and make sure you have a system in place to effect a rescue should any of the safety systems be called into use.

Leaving an operator dangling in a dangerous situation for long periods of time can cause distress and injury. You must consider the speed of rescue, how you can rescue the operator in the first place and whether you should have first aid or emergency services on stand-by.


Working at height brings with it its own dangers, and these should be considered carefully. If you’re at all unsure about your safety procedures or equipment, call Worlifts now for a consultation.