Fall restraint and fall arrest – what’s the difference?

On the surface, the terms ‘fall restraint’ and ‘fall arrest’ could be mistaken as the same concept. However, while both processes relate to the working at heights topic as a whole, it is important for business leaders to understand the key differences between the two.

Fall restraint or fall arrest?

Essentially, the main distinction between fall restraint and fall arrest is where the system is utilised. According to Safe Work Australia, fall restraints stop people accessing a fall hazard through a tie off system, while fall arrest minimises injury in the event of a fall.

While it largely depends on the environment, each system has its benefits and uses within the framework of a working at heights situation. In the next section, we will analyse the advantages of each system.


Employers have a responsibility to choose the right system.

Why a fall restraint system?

Fall restraint systems can be used when workers need to operate on the edge of a hazard, but not exactly at the point of risk.

For example, if working at heights professionals are operating on a fragile roof and there is a risk of falling through. A fall restraint system can be applied so these workers don’t get themselves into a position where that fall could occur.

This could come in the form of guardrails, walkway systems and other barrier protection equipment where workers are prevented from accessing the fall hazard.

Why a fall arrest system?

Most fall arrest systems allow person to rescue themselves rather than wait for support to arrive.

On the opposite side of the argument are fall arrest processes. When workers have to engage in an environment where a fall could occur, it is better to have a fall arrest system in place.

For example, a worker conducting maintenance on a roof gutter. There is no point setting up a fall restraint as the worker can’t get to the location and complete their task so the fall arrest method is required.

In the case that the working from height professional does fall, the arrest system will kick in and the person can be saved from injury or even death. In fact, most fall arrest systems allow a person to rescue themselves rather than wait for support to arrive.

Applying the right solution

As mentioned above, there are clear differences between fall restraint and fall arrest systems. However, the team at Anchor Safe Systems are more than experienced in this field.

If your business is looking for a solution to ensure the safety of your workers, feel free to get in contact with us today.