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How fall arrest and fall prevention systems differ

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

There are many different safety systems used in the modern workplace. For workers who operate at heights – like construction workers, roofers, some warehouse workers and others – fall prevention systems are often used.

There are two main types of systems that may be in place to prevent falls on a work site. It’s important for workers to understand how they work and how they differ.

Fall prevention

A fall prevention system stops a fall from happening. An example could be a tether that keeps a roofer from being able to approach the edge of the roof. Another example is a railing on a scaffold system that makes it impossible for a worker to fall over the side. With the understanding that falls could lead to severe injuries, a prevention system seeks to minimize the risk that a fall happens in the first place.

Fall arrest

In some situations, a fall cannot be prevented. This is when a fall arrest system may be used. The system will catch the worker before they suffer serious injuries. An example of this is if a roofer uses a rope and safety harness. They could slip and fall while putting up shingles, but the rope will catch them before they fall over the edge, preventing significant injuries.

Unfortunately, workers can still be injured even when safety systems are in place. Some of them may have been given the wrong safety gear, inadequate training or safety systems that were set up incorrectly. But even when workers don’t make any mistakes, accidents may happen. When they do, workers’ compensation benefits are available to all eligible employees, regardless of how many hours per week they work and (almost always) without regard to what caused their harm.