Workers who face fall risks, such as those in the construction industry, often use fall protection equipment while on the job. Ideally, they should be very well-trained in how to use this equipment, and they should have plenty of practice with it before actually putting themselves in a risky position.

When considering the type of equipment that they use, one important thing to keep in mind is that there are two main goals and two different — and yet related — types of fall protection equipment.

The first type is aimed at preventing a fall from happening at all. For instance, the handrails along a catwalk are a type of fall protection equipment that makes it nearly impossible for the worker to fall from the catwalk. Another example is when a worker gets raised up on a hydraulic lift with a rail around it, rather than climbing a ladder.

The second type is aimed at arresting a fall after it occurs. The most common example here is a safety harness. These harnesses typically go around the waist and the shoulders, and they can be clipped into a fixed line. The worker may still slip and fall, but the line will catch them before they hit the ground. This can prevent injuries or at least ensure that those injuries are minor.

In some cases, workers will use both. For instance, a worker in a lift may also wear a vest that they can clip into a tether.

All of this equipment does help, but workers still get injured in falls on the job. If this has happened to you, make sure you know what legal steps you can take.