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Aviation Fall Protection and Safety Definitions

The following are definitions related to Fall Protection and Safety Exposure to dangerous heights while performing Maintenance and Inspection of aircraft is a common occurrence and technicians will benefit from being familiar with the terminology related to fall protection and safety. Falls from heights are potential hazards associated with aircraft maintenance, inspection, and servicing operations. Establishing and managing a site specific fall protection program; utilizing safe work procedures and practices; and using proper fall protection equipment, systems, and methods (including proper training) will protect personnel exposed to fall hazards from heights when working on aircraft.

Anchorage: A secured structure/building element that can safely withstand forces exerted by fall arrest equipment. The structure/building can be in the form of a beam, girder, column, floor or any rigid part of structure or equipment. Anchorage is either engineered or improvised. The anchorage must be capable of withstanding a minimum force of 5,000 pounds per person, or engineered by a qualified person for twice the maximum arresting force.

Anchorage Connector: The means by which a fall arrest system is secured to the anchorage. This can include a steel cable sling, anchor strap, load-rated eyebolt, tripod, davit arm, or any other device designed to suspend human loads and capable of withstanding forces generated by a fall.

Competent Person for Fall Protection: A person who is capable of identifying hazardous or dangerous conditions in the personal fall arrest system or any component thereof, as well as in their application and use with related equipment and having the authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate the hazards of falling. (See qualified person for design knowledge.)

Deceleration Distance: The additional vertical distance a falling employee travels, excluding lifeline elongation and free-fall distance, before stopping, from the point at which the deceleration device begins to operate. It is measured as the distance between locations of an employee’s full body harness attachment point at the moment of activation (at the onset of fall arrest forces) of the deceleration device during a fall, and the location of that attachment point after the employee comes to a full stop.

End User for Fall Protection: A person approved  to perform a specific type of work at heights and at a specific location; a person who is trained on the use of fall arrest equipment.

Energy (Shock) Absorber: A component whose primary function is to dissipate energy and limit deceleration forces that the system imposes on the body and the anchorage system during fall arrest.

Fall Arrest System: A combination of equipment and components connected together, designed to stop a person from striking a lower level or an obstruction during a fall.

Fall Protection: Action and procedures to effectively protect a worker from fall hazards.

Free-Fall Distance: The vertical distance from the onset of a fall to a point where a fall-arrest system is activated or engaged. (This is the vertical displacement of the fall arrest attachment point on the employee’s body belt or body harness between onset of the fall and just before the system begins to apply force to arrest the fall. This distance excludes deceleration distance, and lifeline/lanyard elongation, but includes any deceleration device slide distance or self-retracting lifeline/lanyard extension before they operate and fall arrest forces occur.)

Full Body Harness: Means of configuration of connected straps secured about the employee in a manner that will distribute the fall arresting forces over at least the upper thighs, waist, shoulders, chest, and pelvis, with means for attaching a lanyard to other components of the personal fall arrest system. Full-body harness is the only body support device allowed by OSHA when a free fall distance exceeds two feet.

Horizontal Lifeline (HLL): A fall arrest system that uses a line made from rope, wire rope, or metal railing that spans horizontally between two end anchorages. The assembly includes the necessary connectors, turnbuckles, in-line energy absorbers, shackles, etc. and may include intermediate anchorages. This is a component of a fall protection system, which consists of a trained worker wearing appropriate fall protection equipment that enables them to safely traverse/work in the horizontal plane. The HLL shall be designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a qualified person.

Lanyard: A flexible line of rope, wire rope, or strap that generally has a connector at each end for connecting the body harness to a deceleration device, lifeline, or anchorage.

Program Manager for Fall Protection: A person authorized who is responsible for the development and implementation of the fall protection program. The manager shall ensure that personnel exposed to fall hazards and other personnel involved in the fall protection program receive adequate training as outlined in appendix A.

Qualified Person for Fall Protection: A person with a recognized engineering degree or professional certificate and extensive knowledge and experience in the subject field of fall protection who is capable of performing design, analysis, evaluation, and specifications in fall protection systems and equipment.

Restraint System: A system designed to restrain a worker from reaching an exposed fall hazard. The system includes personal fall protection equipment, acceptable anchorage systems, and trained worker and administrative procedures.

Self-Retracting Lanyard (SRL): A deceleration device containing a drum-wound line which can be slowly extracted from, or retracted onto, the drum under slight tension during normal employee movement, and which, after onset of a fall, automatically locks the drum and arrests the fall.

Total Fall Distance: The vertical distance between the anchorage location and connecting point on the body (generally, the harness D-ring) after the fall is arrested, which includes the free fall and deceleration distances.

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