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Fall Protection at Leading Edges: Fall Arrest and Guard Rails

Fall arrest systems help workers get the guardrails in place safely, a gate between the two areas reminds them to use fall protection
November 02, 2023

This discussion of fall protection and fall arrest for leading-edge work is from Rick Jenkins, a Construction Superintendent with Hoffman Construction in Portland, Oregon (the OTHER Portland).

Fall protection falls (!) into a few categories offering different levels of safety, from Fall Restraint (preventing the chance of a fall), to fall arrest (preventing a landing AFTER a fall. Often, the only;y difference is the length of the lanyard, but a guardrail qualifies as a fall restraint system.


So what you see in the background here is a very typical application of transitioning to fall arrest, and the system that we're doing it on in the background here is the first post-tensioned concrete deck that we're doing on this project.

Transition from fall arrest to a safe zone

The workers enter into this operation in fall arrest while they put these shoring poles in the decking system up. Then, as soon as is practical, you put a guard rail with a mid rail, top rail, and a toe board around a dedicated area. Those workers that are on the common-sense side—the safe side—of that guard rail system do not have to be in a fall arrest system.

Set up a safety gate between areas

A best practice is to set up a gate, a dedicated point of entry that is also signed, that tells you as an employee when you're heading to a fall arrest zone. That is the operation that you're seeing behind us here. That operation will continue to the east with this deck being installed in fall arrest, and then that guard rail system falls right and follows right behind that as soon as the deck is safe enough and the fall hazards are eliminated, you can head into fall protection mode with a guard rail.

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