Rope-up protection

The term “rope-up protection” is used to describe a special type of fall arrest system (designed to secure employees) using personal fall protection equipment (PPE). This type of safety system is based on a connector, which employees of a broad range of professions who work high up can use to hook themselves up - thus preventing them from falling or catching them in the case of a fall. One end of this connector is connected to a so-called anchorage device (AD). The other end is attached to a safety harness worn by the user. A safety harness is equipped with a dorsal eyelet to which the connector can be attached using a carabiner hook; its counterpart is the anchorage eyelet of the anchorage device.

Basic requirements for using rope-up protection

The employers’ liability insurance associations and the DGUV all agree that rope-up protection constitutes a lower-level safety solution which should only be used on a temporary basis and/or only for small jobs. On the contrary, if a work zone located high up is accessed frequently, one should check whether a collective protection  solution should be given preference. Quite often, however, this is not the case. This is why one finds anchorage devices installed on numerous buildings and machines - providing the basis for a rope-up solution. Such a rope-up solution may consist of a series of single anchorage points/anchors, roof safety hooks, a lifeline system or a rail safety system. A general rule is that only tested and certified safety harnesses and connectors may be used.

Safety aspects when using a rope-up fall protection solution

There are various aspects to be aware of when working with personal fall protection and rope-up protection solutions. Primarily, only trained workers may use rope-up protection and personal fall protection equipment. The main object of using such equipment is to prevent a swing fall wherever possible. Usually when a swing fall occurs it is when a single anchorage point has been used as a safety measure and where the secured individual is not located directly above this anchorage device but slightly to one side. In addition, users working with personal fall arrest equipment must take care to ensure that they only use sharp edge-tested connectors. These are capable of withstanding a fall - even when the retaining cable is stretched over a (roof) edge or (in the case of a swing fall) where this cable is scraped backwards and forwards along the edge.

Different solutions: Arresting versus retention systems

When using personal fall protection equipment, a differentiation is made between two basic safety solutions. When used as a retention system , the connector restricts the user’s working radius to such an extent that he/she can still reach his/her place of work but cannot accidentally enter the fall danger zone or step out over the falling edge. The main goal of such measures (and of fall arrest measures in general) is to prevent falls. In the case of an arresting system - used in cases where a retention system is not feasible - the object is to catch the individual who has fallen whilst endangering him/her as little as possible. A connector needs to be adjusted to the correct length to stop a free fall which could otherwise result in death caused by hitting the ground. The energy absorber included in a PPE kit also reduces the force exerted on the user’s body to a maximum of 6 kN - thus reducing the risk of injury to a minimum. To prevent a user from suffering from suspension trauma after a fall, this individual must be rescued within a few minutes..

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