Fall protection is a broad term that is used to describe various types of equipment and policies that help to minimize the potential for workers to be injured when managing tasks that are high above ground level. Within this broad category, companies often use a combination of safety equipment along with training personnel in how to use the equipment to avoid falling during the course of a given task. Fall protection equipment includes such devices as guard rails, safety harnesses and even inflatable devices that can be used to break a fall and prevent serious injury.
Within the wide category of fall protection, there are often various sub-categories defined. Fall guarding includes devices that erect some sort of barrier that helps to prevent workers from falling off ledges and other areas suspending high above ground. Guard rails and rope barriers are two examples of fall guarding. Fall restraint devices serve a similar purpose and may be ideal when various types of guarding equipment is not practical. Safety harnesses are an example of restraint equipment.
The use of fall protection is common in many different professions. Within the construction industry, employees will often wear protective equipment as well as safety harnesses when managing tasks associated with the construction of a high rise building. Repair personnel working in manufacturing companies will often make use of cat walks surrounded by guard rails when inspecting and making repairs to large vats. Even people who paint building exteriors or wash the windows of multi-story buildings will often make use of at least some type of fall protection as they go about their assigned tasks.
Depending on the setting, several different types of fall protection equipment may be in use at the same time. For example, an individual may wear a safety harness while being suspended on scaffolding that includes a safety rail as part of the safety measures. On the ground below, an inflatable protection device may be placed and ready for automatic inflation should the safety harness fail for some reason. The exact combination of equipment used will vary, depending on the degree of risk associated with performing a given task at a certain level above the ground.
In many nations, the use of fall protection is mandatory within certain industries. Labor unions may require the use of safety equipment as well as fall safety training for its members. It is not unusual for governments to pass regulations that require businesses to provide employees who perform certain tasks with specified types of fall protection equipment, and also ensure that those employees know how to use the equipment safely. When used to best effect, all types of fall protection help to preserve human life, minimize the potential for injury and generally protect workers as they engage in various tasks associated with their assigned duties.