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Q&A: Fall Arrest vs. Fall Restraint

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

What's the difference between a fall arrest and a fall restraint system, and in what situations should each be used? Are there any regulations or best practices to follow? 



FallProPoster-03Fall Arrest vs. Fall Restraint: 

A fall arrest system is designed to stop a fall that is already occurring. It includes components such as a full-body harness, a lanyard, and a secure anchorage point, all aiming to safely catch the worker if they fall, minimizing injury during the deceleration process. In contrast, a fall restraint system prevents the worker from reaching a point where a fall could occur. This system involves a tether attached to a worker's harness, restricting movement to a safe distance from the edge. 

Minimum Requirements vs. Industry Best Practices: 

OSHA regulations are considered minimum requirements and govern both fall arrest and fall restraint systems, ensuring they meet the baseline for strength, durability, and performance. For fall arrest systems, these requirements specify a maximum arresting force of 1,800 pounds when using a body harness and necessitate anchorage points capable of withstanding at least 5,000 pounds of force. Additionally, these regulations limit the maximum deceleration distance to 3.5 feet and the maximum free fall distance to 6 feet. 

The standards found in ANSI Z359 are generally considered industry best practices and provide more comprehensive guidelines for both types of systems. For fall arrest systems, they outline specifications for each component, including design, testing, and compatibility requirements. They emphasize using energy-absorbing lanyards to reduce arresting force, require harnesses to evenly distribute forces across the body, and insist on proper maintenance schedules to ensure continued performance. For fall restraint systems, industry best practices focus on prevention, recommending adjustable tethers and lanyards to limit workers' reach and ensuring all components are rated for their intended use and compatible with each other. They also outline regular inspection and maintenance requirements to ensure system reliability.

fallpro2Choosing Between Fall Arrest and Fall Restraint: 

The choice between a fall arrest or fall restraint system depends on the work environment and the tasks being performed. If it's possible to completely prevent a fall by using a restraint system, this is often the preferred approach due to its preventive nature. However, in situations where workers must work near or beyond the edge of a fall hazard, and restraint is not feasible, fall arrest systems are necessary. 

For example, in rooftop maintenance, where workers are scheduled to perform routine checks on HVAC units and solar panels on the top of a building, a fall restraint system may be preferred. The workers use a tether attached to their harnesses, anchored to points on the roof, restricting their movement and preventing them from reaching the roof's edge or getting too close to skylights or other openings. In contrast, in steel framework construction, where workers are assembling a new steel structure for an extension of the facility, a fall arrest system might be necessary. This task involves maneuvering across beams at significant heights, climbing ladders, and working near edges. A fall arrest system allows this flexibility while providing safety, catching workers if they fall, and minimizing injury during the deceleration process. 

By distinguishing between fall arrest and fall restraint systems and understanding both minimum requirements and industry best practices, workers and employers can take proactive steps to mitigate the risks of working at heights. The goal is to stop falls, ensuring every worker returns home safely at the end of the day.  

Warrick headshot copy Chris Warrick, NRP is a Nationally Registered Paramedic, Confined Space Rescue Technician, and EMS educator who serves as Medical Program Manager at Roco Rescue. 


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Additional Q&A Resources

VPPPA Member Discounts & Scholarships

Friday, April 26, 2024

ROCO VPPPA Partnership

Roco Rescue has entered a strategic partnership with the Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association (VPPPA), extending exclusive benefits to VPPPA members*. Through this Partnership, VPPPA members gain access to specialized rescue training program discounts and scholarships with Roco Rescue!


2024 Open Enrollment


Discounted Training Opportunities

VPPPA members benefit from a 10% discount on Open Enrollment Registration Courses across Roco Rescue's comprehensive training catalog. This exclusive discount underscores Roco Rescue's commitment to advancing safety excellence within the VPP community.


Strategic Partner Logo - Sapphire


Member-Exclusive Scholarships

In addition to the discount program, VPPPA members will now also have access to a VPPPA member-exclusive Rescue Training Scholarship Program. This program offers up to four scholarships per year for VPPPA members, enabling access to Roco Rescue's acclaimed Rescue Essentials course. 


As Chris Williams, Executive Director of VPPPA, aptly puts it, "Roco Rescue embodies the commitment that VPPPA and its members share to advancing health and safety excellence."

How to Get Started

For VPPPA members looking to take advantage of these exclusive benefits, visit this link for more information.

*Applies to Full, Associate and Corporate membership types, excluding Roco competitors.

1910.156 Fire Brigades Proposed Update!

Monday, March 18, 2024

On February 25, 2024, OSHA published a proposed update to the 1910.156 Fire Brigades Standard. OSHA is proposing through this notice of proposed rulemaking to issue a new safety and health standard, titled Emergency Response, to replace the existing 40-year-old Fire Brigades Standard. OSHA is requesting comments on all aspects of the proposed rule. The deadline to submit a comment is May 6, 2024. Those wishing to add a public comment to the proposed ruling may click here to be taken directly to the submission portal.


ChrisChris McGlynn 2024 McGlynn, CSP is a Certified Safety Professional and Nationally Registered Paramedic who serves as the Director of Safety and VPP Coordinator at Roco Rescue. He is also an active OSHA Special Government Employee within the Voluntary Protection Program and current President of the American Society of Safety Professionals Greater Baton Rouge Chapter. Chris also represents ASSP on the ANSI Z117 Confined Space and Z390 Hydrogen Sulfide Training Standard Development Committees.

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Additional Resources

Rescue Knot Efficiencies

Friday, February 9, 2024

knot14Prompted by increasing inquiries regarding the durability and attributes of 11 mm NFPA General Use Rope, our friends at CMC (Instructors LeRoy Harbach and John McKently) embarked on a sequence of experiments within the CMC lab. Their investigation into knot effectiveness encompassed 487 trials across various rope varieties, uncovering valuable insights into the influence of diameter, composition, and materials on knot performance. Additionally, they broadened the focus of their research to assess the viability of smaller diameter ropes suggested for rescue operations, leading to the formulation of guidelines for estimating knot efficiency relative to rope diameter.

Click HERE to read the full case study.

Additional Resources:

Roco Rescue and VPPPA Strategic Partnership

Friday, February 2, 2024


VPPPA and Roco Rescue have entered into a strategic partnership agreement, marking a significant milestone for both organizations. Roco Rescue is the first to join VPPPA’s recently launched Strategic Partner Program.
“VPPPA is pleased to welcome Roco Rescue as the first of many VPPPA Strategic Partners,” stated Chris Williams, CAE, VPPPA Executive Director. “As a longtime VPPPA member and supporter through their involvement at VPPPA’s Safety+ and regional conferences—and, more importantly, as a VPP Star site—Roco Rescue embodies the commitment that VPPPA and its members share to advancing health and safety excellence. We look forward to working together as we expand our relationship and help VPPPA members raise the standard for workplace safety and health excellence.”
Strategic Partner Logo - SapphireWe are so excited to finally make this official with VPPPA. It is just another example of Roco Rescue's commitment to safety and health. Our partnership with such an incredible organization will help create safer and healthier workplaces for all.
Read full press release Here.



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