work positioning systems

Work Positioning Systems In Construction

A work positioning system uses equipment that allows an individual to work while being supported by a harness in tension that prevents a fall from occurring.

A work positioning system requires both supervisors and users to be highly competent to ensure that it is used safely.

Supervisors and users should undergo competency-based training courses.

Industrial Rope Access Systems

This type of system is used to work at and gain access to a workface. Usually, this is achieved through the use of vertically suspended ropes. 

Industrial rope access systems do use fall-arrest components.

However, the major purpose of this type of system is gaining access to a certain work area instead of providing backup fall protection.

Other methods to access a workface also should be considered (building maintenance units or EWPs, for example) before using a rope access system, since as high levels of skill are needed to use them safely.

You should make sure that whenever it is necessary to use an industrial rope access system that the following is adhered to:

  • operators have competence in using this technique
  • operators never work alone, in case they need help in an emergency
  • an industrial rope access system should be installed in locations where rescue or prompt assistance can be provided if necessary
  • a competent person checks all equipment on a regular basis
  • a competent person checks all fixed anchorage points prior to use before the rope access lines are attached
  • the operator is protected by a backup system
  • each person uses two independently anchored ropes
  • any individual that is working with three metres of an unguarded edge is secured adequately
  • a full-body harness is worn by all operators
  • supervisors are able to communicate with workers
  • proper personal protective equipment is worn where necessary, such as masks, goggles, hearing protection, gloves, and helmets
  • signposts and barricades are placed on all of the access areas underneath anchorage locations and the working area to alert and exclude tradespeople and the public.

The IAS/NZS 4488 industrial rope access systems series provides further recommendations on industrial rope access systems.

Following is the equipment used with Industrial Rope Access Systems:

  • Working line
  • Safety line
  • Descender
  • Helmet
  • Tool attachment
  • Full body harness
  • Strap
  • Swing seat (optional)
  • Lanyard assembly
  • Rope grab (Back-up)

Restraint Technique

A person’s movement is controlled by a restraint technique by physically preventing the individual from reaching a position where they will be at risk of a fall.

It is comprised of a harness connected via a lanyard to a horizontal or anchorage lifeline.

It is required to be set up in order to prevent the user from reaching an edge that is unprotected.

Using a restraint technique is appropriate where:

  • the user is able to maintain secure footing without needing to tension the restraint line and without help from any lateral support or handhold.

When determining whether or not secure footing may be maintained, the following should be considered:

  • type of supporting material
  • surface slope
  • the surface texture and whether or not it is likely to be oily, wet, or otherwise slippery
  • horizontal lifelines, when required, should be fitted with an industrial shock absorber
  • the restraint system is in conformance with the industrial fall-arrest devices and system series from ASNZS 1891.

Restraint techniques should only be used when it is not reasonably practicable to provide a physical barrier (a guard rail, for example) to prevent falls.

This is due to the fact that users are required to possess a high level of skill in order to operate it safely and requires greater supervision as well. 

A competent person should install the restraint system according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Also, restraint anchorage should be used that has been designed to be used for fall-arrest loading.

Rather than restraint techniques, a separate fall-arrest system should be used in any of these situations:

  • the user is able to reach a position where it is possible for a fall to occur
  • the user has been provided with a restraint line where the length can be adjusted to reach a free fall position
  • there is a potential danger that the user might fall through a surface, as in the roof material is fragile, for example
  • the slope is greater than 15 degrees

If you are looking for knowledgeable and experienced scaffolders, who have leading-hands that work together with you and offer expert advice, please contact us at Skelscaff today on 1300 266 607 or email us at

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