the execution of work at heights, is very common in various areas of the workplace such as: construction, maintenance of plants or facilities in general, in the operational industry (oil, manufacturing, agriculture), among others.
These works by their nature, imply a falling risk of the personnel that executes them, highly considerable. On the other hand, these activities at height are carried out with the indispensable use of tools, which are also at constant risk of falling and causing an injury to the workers, damage to some equipment, or to the facilities in which the task is carried out.
As a safety measure, both for the worker and for any machinery and section of the work, they have been designed fall arrest tools. These tools have a special design, which gives them the required protection to prevent them from falling into the void and causing any damage.
fall arrest tools
These tools are a version of the common work instruments that we know, with the addition that they have the device that allows them to be secured to a mooring or harness, which prevents them from falling from heights.
The fall arrest device it is a hoop or ring, which is linked to the tool and through which it is secured. This ring is made of highly resistant material, usually steel, and is strongly attached to the tool. The usual thing is that this ring goes through the tool, without hindering or inconveniencing its use and function.
Some of the most common fall arrest tools are pliers, screwdrivers, hammers or mallets, wrenches and pliers.
Attachment accessories for fall arrest tools
To work safely with fall arrest tools, the use of fastening or mooring accessories is necessary. These accessories are responsible for securing the tools to a fixed element known as an anchor point.
There are various holding instruments, the best known are the ones that we will name below:
The retractable tape, consists of an extension with a carabiner or hook that is secured to the worker’s belt, and at the other end it has a loop with which the fall arrest tool is attached. This tape, as its name indicates, is retractable, to facilitate the use of the tool it extends as far as necessary, and on the other hand it contracts in case the work instrument is dropped.
The tool tie, is another of the most used options. This accessory is designed to secure the work tool to a static element, such as a tube, a beam, or a scaffolding crossbar. It is longer than the retractable tape and, like the latter, has a hook for attaching to the anchor point and a loop for attaching the tool.
There are others types of tool holders, they vary in size, support or resistance, there are even some specially designed for a specific tool. But they all meet or have the same objective, to hold and secure the fall arrest tool to an anchor point, to prevent it from falling causing damage.
Tests to check the design and quality of fall arrest devices
Due to the importance of the excellent functioning of these security devices, they are subjected to demanding tests that allow the quality and design of their elaboration to be verified.
The free fall test, consists of securing the accessory to be tested at an anchor point, while a load is applied to it at the opposite end. This load is raised and released vertically 5 times, in order to verify the resistance of the device.
Another test is pendulum fallAs in the previous test, the device is secured at the anchor point and the load is placed on the other end. The load rises until it is above the anchor point and then it is released 5 times, thus drawing the pendulum movement. This test seeks to simulate the fall of an object to check the resistance of the mooring, in cases in which the object remains oscillating due to the speed of the fall.
static load It is the third test to which the mooring devices are subjected. In this test, the accessory is again secured to the anchor point, and the load is applied at the other end for 10 minutes. In this way, the endurance and resistance of the device against the constant weight of an object is verified.
The function and reason for being of the fall arrest tools, is mainly focused on the protection of people who work at heights. As secondary protection, they also protect the structures of the work and the equipment or work machines.
The tools and their fastening accessories are checked and proven to provide the required protection. It is of vital importance that we select and use the fall arrest tools in combination with the fastening instruments, to carry out quality work within the established safety parameters.