Fall protection standards

Working at heights is a risky activity! Sectors such as construction and maintenance are particularly exposed. In the workplace, nearly one in ten accidents is associated with a fall in height, it is the second leading cause of workplace fatalities. Here below, you will find the numerous regulations and fall protection standards.

Labor laws in many countries makes it clear:
'Where collective protection devices cannot be implemented, worker protection shall be provided by means of an appropriate fall protection equipment, not allowing a free fall of more than one meter or limiting under the same conditions the effects of a fall of greater height. When such personal protective equipment is used, a worker must never remain alone in order to be able to be rescued in a time compatible with the preservation of health”

Fall protection is mandatory when there is a risk of falling while working at heights and the employer must provide each of its employees with suitable equipment (art. R. 4321-1 of the Labour Code in France) as well as theoretical and practical training.

Safety harness standards

Depending on the type of activity and the working environment, several types of safety harness are attached to different standards:

  • EN 361 - Personal fall protection equipment: The fall arrest harness.
  • EN 358 - Personal protective equipment for maintaining work and preventing falls from heights: Holding and retaining belts and holding lanyards.
  • EN 813 - Personal protective equipment for the prevention of falls from suspended heights: Leg belts.
  • EN 1497 - Personal fall protection equipment with safety buckles: The safety harness.

Energy bidind and absorption system standards

  • EN 353-1 - Mobile fall arrest including rigid anchor line.
  • EN 353-2 - Mobile fall arrest including a flexible anchor line.
  • EN 354 - Personal fall protection equipment: lanyards.
  • EN 355 - Personal protection equipment against falls from heights: energy absorbers.
  • EN360 - Device that has an automatic locking function and a retractable long return system: automatic fall arrest.
  • EN 362 - Personal fall protection equipment: connectors.

Anchorage devices standards (EN 795)

EN795 – Part of a fall protection system for attaching the fall arrest device to the structure: anchoring devices. According to EN 795, there are five main types of anchoring devices:

  • Type A: unique anchor device permanently attached to infrastructure such as grommets.
  • Type B: Temporary anchor device that can be removed after use without leaving marks such as tripods, mooring straps or posts with marking barriers.
  • Type C: Anchor device using a flexible anchor line.
  • Type D: Anchor device using a rigid horizontal anchor line.
  • Type E: Dead weight anchor device.

In order to move safely through the danger zone, the user must secure his Personal Fall Protection Equipment to the anchoring device. For this, a suitable connector and harness are required.

Depending on the situation, trailing fall arresters or fall retractors may be used when approved for horizontal use. In general, for a correct anchorage: the port of energy absorbers is indispensable.

Fall protection in confined spaces

In contrast to areas at risk of falling outdoors, small falls can pose significant risks in confined spaces. The risk of falling is significant especially when there is a descent through the ladders. Attention must also be paid to the massive presence of slippery dirt.

In terms of fall protection in confined space (see wasterwater treatment training) the safety harness must comply with both EN361 standards, this is the base. Ideally it can also meet the standards EN813 (suspension) and EN1497 (confined media evacuation) and connect to a tripod or a stem (at the anchoring point conforming to NF EN 795.