Hierarchy of Fall Protection

A designer or building owner must ensure the safety of a worker, if the need to work at height cannot be avoided, as detailed under Regulation 9 of CDM2015.

‘Avoid work at height wherever possible!’

This is a well-known Health and Safety protocol, where working at height is required, we are all responsible for minimising the risks. When roof access cannot be avoided, a collective method of fall protection should firstly be considered, all current guidance calls for ‘work restraint’ systems as the best option. SFS design to restraint by default. A system can only be deemed restraint where there is no possibility of a fall.

The safest method should be prioritised without the prejudice of a cost saving. Arrest systems should only be considered as a last resort.


No risk of a fall.

A typical restraint system is set 2.3m back from the roof edge or potential fall hazard. The user’s path is dictated.

No need for a rescue plan, minimal PPE and user training required.

A system can only be deemed restraint where there is no possibility of a fall.


Potential for a fall

A fall arrest system requires more input from a design point of view, this should always be backed up with published calculations applicable to the roof substrate type & potential loads in the event of a fall. Other factors such as building height and fall clearances require due consideration from all fall hazards including through rooflights.

This type of system requires specialist PPE, user training and a rescue plan to be in place.


SFS Fall Protection
SFS Group Fastening Technology Ltd.
153 Kirkstall Road
UK-LS4 2AT Leeds
T +44 1924 472251