Fall Arrest Systems - Anchors For Travel Restraint

  • Document Type: Guidance Note
    Keycode: web only
    Industry: Construction, General, 
    Category: Falls Prevention, 
    Division Author: Construction & Utilities
    Publication Date: 06 June 2005
    Date First Published: 21 July 2004
    Summary: This guidance provides information on the selection, installation and use of anchors for permanently installed travel restraint systems.

Employers who use travel restraint and fall arrest systems as risk control measures for work at height, must ensure that structures to which these systems are anchored are able to support the intended loads.

BackgroundThe Occupational Health and Safety (Prevention of Falls) Regulations 2003 require employers to implement the most effective fall prevention measures reasonably practicable when employees are working at height.

Scaffolds, elevating work platforms or temporary guardrailing are the most effective fall prevention measures. Where it is not practicable to use these higher order controls, employers may need to consider the use of travel restraint or fall arrest systems.

Travel restraint systems are fall prevention measures that limit the travel of workers to ensure they do not reach an edge from which they may fall. Fall arrest systems, also known as "fall injury prevention systems", arrest the user in the event of a fall. These systems can be anchored to one point or to a horizontal lifeline.

Permanent anchors for these systems are frequently installed to roofs or other parts of a building. The force applied to a fall arrest anchor, in the event of a fall, is significantly higher than with a travel restraint anchor.

Anchors must be properly installed prior to the systems being attached to them and used according to manufacturers' specifications.

NOTE: The design and fixing of anchors are not regulated under the Building Act or the Building Regulations and therefore do not require a building permit for installation.

Anchor design
The design and usage of anchors for travel restraint or fall arrest systems should follow recommendations in Australian Standard AS 1891, Industrial fall arrest systems and devices and its relevant parts.

Section 3 of AS 1891.4, Industrial fall arrest systems and devices - Selection, use and maintenance, states that single point anchors for fall arrest systems to be used by one person should be designed for a load of 15 kN. The load strength should be increased by 6 kN if two people are likely to use the same anchor point at the same time.

The Standard further states that more than two people are not permitted to use the same anchor point at the same time. However, more than two people may use a horizontal lifeline at the same time, if this is within the manufacturer's specifications.

Some anchor points and horizontal lifelines are designed to deform under load. Although the load transmitted in this situation will be less, the adequacy of the structures to which the anchors are attached must still be carefully assessed (see below) before such anchors are used. This is critical when anchors are fixed to parts of a roof structure.

Strength of supporting structures
Any supporting structure to which an anchor is to be fixed must be assessed for strength by undergoing an engineering assessment.

Many manufacturers and suppliers provide standard connections along with information on the hardware of the travel restraint and fall arrest systems, based on test reports. These recommendations do not include information in relation to any particular structure, the adequacy of the structure or the recommended connection details for the structure. The adequacy of the structure to support the full design load of the anchorage must still be verified by an engineering assessment.

When undertaking the engineering assessment on a structure, it may be acceptable to allow parts of the structure to undergo minimum local damage, in the event of a fall, providing there will be no failure of any primary structural member.

Structures such as some roofs or frameworks, which are not capable of sustaining loads imposed by fall arrest anchors during a fall, will require alternative methods of protecting workers at height.

  • Recommendations
    Building owners, occupiers and employers should ensure that:
  • locations of anchors comply with the requirements for safe use, safe access, the pendulum effect and signage, as stipulated in clause 3.2 of AS 1891.4
  • structural supports for anchors are assessed separately by a suitably qualified engineer (as stipulated in AS 1891.4, clause 3.1.2.) or by a competent person, as appropriate, and the assessment documented
  • anchors are inspected for compliance with the requirements in clause 9.3.3 of AS 1891.4 and the inspection documented. The documentation should specify any ongoing requirement to carry out testing of anchor points.
  • anchors are properly labelled and instructions for safe use and appropriate rigging plans are supplied to the user.

Emergency procedures
Under the prevention of falls Regulations, emergency procedures must be developed and in place to ensure that, in the event of a fall, or other emergency, any employee using a travel arrest or fall restraint system is rescued as quickly as possible.

Information, training and supervision
Employees using travel arrest or fall restraint systems must be adequately trained and supervised in their correct use.

Instructions supplied with the system should specify the level of competence required for safe use.

Acts and Regulations

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • OHS (Prevention of Falls) Regulations 2003
  • Code of Practice for the Prevention of Falls in General Construction

Acts and regulations are available from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356 or order online at www.bookshop.vic.gov.au.

View the legislation at Victorian Law Today at www.legislation.vic.gov.au.

Standards Australia

Relevant Australian Standards:
Australian Standard AS 1891 - Industrial fall arrest systems and devices
Australian Standard AS 1891.1 - Safety belts and Harnesses
Australian Standard AS 1891.2 - Horizontal life line and rail systems
Australian Standard AS 1891 - Horizontal life line and rail systems - Prescribed configurations (Supplement 1)
Australian Standard AS 1891.3 - Fall arrest devices
Australian Standard AS 1891.4 - Selection, use and maintenance
Australian Standard AS/NZ 4488 - Parts 1 & 2 - Industrial Rope Access

Copies of standards can be obtained by contacting Standards Australia on 1300 654 646 or by visiting the web site at www.standards.com.au.

Further information


WorkSafe VictoriaSpecific information on construction safety can be obtained by contacting WorkSafe on 1800 136 089

Special Note on Codes of Practice: Codes of Practice made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985 provide practical guidance to people who have duties or obligations under Victoria's OHS laws. The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 allows the Minister for Workcover to make Compliance Codes which will provide greater certainty about what constitutes compliance with the OHS laws.

Codes of Practice will continue to be a practical guide for those who have OHS duties and WorkSafe will continue to regard those who comply with the topics covered in the Codes of Practice as complying with OHS laws. WorkSafe will progressively review all Codes of Practice and replace them with guidance material and in appropriate cases, with Compliance Codes.

Note: This guidance material has been prepared using the best information available to WorkSafe Victoria. Any information about legislative obligations or responsibilities included in this material is only applicable to the circumstances described in the material. You should always check the legislation referred to in this material and make your own judgement about what action you may need to take to ensure you have complied with the law. Accordingly, the Victorian WorkCover Authority extends no warranties as to the suitability of the information for your specific circumstances.