General terms

Swing fall

A swing fall poses an increased risk of injury, if a secured person is left swinging at the end of a retaining cable following a fall. Although the retaining cable, resp. connector, has saved the individual who has fallen from dying as a result of hitting the ground, bruising or other injuries may result from collisions with other objects caused by the swinging motion. For example, the user might hit the edge of the structure, a steel girder or other obstacle. As the swinging speed is exactly the same as the fall speed, injuries caused through a collision can be really serious.

What causes a swing fall?

If the user is not located directly under an anchor when he/she falls but way off to the side, there is a danger of a swing fall. That might be the case, if the user has forgotten to move the carabiner hook attached to his/her protective equipment along to the nearest anchorage point. Single anchorage points commonly involve the risk of swing falls due to the nature of the work involved. If someone - such as a roofer - is working high up, this person has to move along the falling edge so that he/she cannot always be positioned directly below the respective anchorage device.

Measures to provide protection against swing falls

When planning a fall arrest solution, attention should be paid to ensuring that users can only move around in the area directly below the anchorage device. This is only possible when single anchorage points are used in combination with a temporary lifeline system which the user can tighten up accordingly prior to commencing work. A much higher level of protection is offered by lifeline and rail safety systems as the user is attached to a glider which follows the user along and is always located as near to the user as possible, assuming it is used correctly (i.e. taut enough to act as a retention system). The correct usage of such retention systems not only stops swing falls but more or less totally prevents them from happening in the first place.