Activation Distance

The distance that a fall arrester travels, or an SRL pays out, from the moment that the falling mass is released until the arresting force is initially applied to the mass.

Active Fall Protection System

A means of providing fall protection that requires users to take specific actions, including wearing (and otherwise using) personal fall protection equipment and following prescribed procedures. 

Examples include travel restraint and fall arrest systems.

Aerial Work Platform (AWP)

A mechanical device used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to inaccessible areas, usually at heights.


A secure connecting point capable of safely withstanding the impact force applied by a fall protection system or anchorage subsystem.

Anchorage Connector

A component or subsystem for coupling a personal fall arrest system to an anchorage.

Anchorage Subsystem

A subsystem of a complete active fall protection system to which users connect their personal equipment.

Examples of anchorage subsystems include fixed anchor points, vertical lifelines, horizontal lifelines, rigid rails and ladder climbing systems.

Authorized Designate

A person approved or assigned by the design engineer to perform a specific duty or duties in relation to the fall protection system.

Authorized Person

A person approved or assigned by the employer to perform a specific duty or duties or to be at a specific location or locations at the job site.


The distance from a specified reference point, such as the working platform or anchorage of a fall arrest system, to the highest obstruction that a user might encounter during a fall.

Competent Person

One who, through extensive training and experience, can identify existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions that are hazardous to employees, and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

In Canada, this refers in general to a person with specific knowledge and experience in the equipment and operations of fall protection systems.

Deceleration Distance

The distance fallen during the period from engagement of a fall arrest systems to the moment of fall arrest.

The deceleration distance is determined by the response and interaction of all the components of the fall arrest system, including the deployment of personal energy absorbers, stretching of lanyards and lifelines, sagging of horizontal lifelines, etc.

Energy Absorber

Any device that dissipates kinetic energy and does not return it to the system or into the human body.

Energy Absorbing Lanyard

Any lanyard that includes an integral energy absorber.

Fall Arrest

To stop a fall. The moment of fall arrest is the instant when a falling body if first stopped. Fall arrest coincides with the greatest forces and deflections of the fall arrest system.

Fall Arrest System

An assembly of components that will arrest a user’s fall when properly assembled and used together and when connected to a suitable anchorage.

Free Fall Distance

The vertical distance from the onset of a fall to the point where the fall arrest system begins to apply force to arrest the fall.

Full Body Harness

A body-holding device, similar to a parachute harness, designed to transfer suspension forces or impacts during a fall arrest to the user’s pelvis and skeleton.

Horizontal Lifeline (HLL)

A length of steel or synthetic rope or webbing that is tensioned and secured between two end anchor points, with or without intermediate anchor points. An HLL serves as a horizontal anchor system to which workers may connect and be protected from edges parallel to the HLL.

See the equipment section of this manual for illustrations and specifications if this term has been used in the user manual.


A thorough examination of equipment or systems, including but not limited to verification of general conformance to required standards.


A flexible line or strap used to secure a full body harness to an energy absorber, a fall arrester, lifeline, or anchorage.

Prohibited Zone

A place or area that may be accessible to the user while using the fall protection system that may render the fall protection system ineffective in the event of a fall.

Qualified Person

One who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing and through extensive knowledge, training and experience, demonstrates the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to fall protection systems.

In Canada, this refers to a registered professional engineer with specific knowledge and specialization in the design and installation of fall protection systems and the structures to which they are connected.

Safe Location

For a location to be deemed safe, at least one of the following criteria must be met:

  • All fall hazards within two meters are guarded by appropriate guard railing meeting applicable regulatory requirements.
  • The nearest fall hazard is a minimum of two meters away.
Self Retracting Lifeline (SRL)

A device that automatically winds a lifeline onto and off a drum as the user moves toward and away from the housing the device that will lock the cable if it senses that the user is falling. See the equipment section of this manual for illustrations and specifications if this term has been used in this user manual.

Swing Fall

Occurs when a person is involved in a fall while using a shock absorbing lanyard or self-retracting lifeline, and an anchorage point that is not positioned directly above them. A pendulum effect will occur, and serious injury can occur if a subject strikes an object.

Three Point Contact

A deliberate technique for climbing and traversing elevated structures, particularly ladders, as safely as possible. Three Point Contact requires the climber to ensure that one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot are always in secure contact with the structure. Both hands must securely grip the structure while repositioning one foot, and both feet must be securely placed before repositioning one hand. Three-point contact is not considered complete fall protection because a worker may still fall if he/she, slips, loses hold or loses consciousness.

In addition to Three Point Contact, fall arrest measures must also be incorporated whenever:

  • The height of possible fall exceeds 20 feet, or
  • When the structure is not as easily climbed as a ladder meeting occupational safety standard, or
  • When a person must work from the ladder or structure, regardless of the height.
Travel Restraint System

An active fall protection system that prevents one or more workers from reaching an unprotected edge or opening.

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