>  Glossary

Not sure how to calculate fall distance or what the difference is between an anchorage and an anchorage connector? Refer to our glossary for help defining the terminology we use throughout this site. Still confused? Contact our customer service experts and we’ll help you sort things out.


ABC’s of Personal Fall Protection
The basic elements of any fall protection system are A for anchorage, B for body support and C for connectors.

Active fall protection system
A means of providing fall protection that requires employees to actively wear and use fall protection equipment, and which requires training.

A secure point of attachment for a personal fall arrest, fall restraint, work Positioning or rescue system.

Anchorage connector
A means of attaching a personal fall arrest, fall restraint, work Positioning or rescue system to the anchorage that comes in many common types including anchor slings, roof anchors, beam clamps, rail sliders, trolleys, eyebolts and shepherd hooks.

American National Standards Institute- is a private non-profit organisation that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems and personnel in the United States.

Arresting Force
The force imposed upon the worker and the anchorage point the moment the fall arrest system stops the fall. It is measured in kilo Newtons (kN) - a maximum of 6kN is allowable for a fall arrest systems under CE EN standards.

Attachment Point
A connection point on the fall arrest harness which allows for the connection of other components of a fall protection/work positioning/descent-rescue system such as a Self-Retracting Lifeline (SRL), Lanyard assembly or other device.

ATEX is the name given to a set of European Directives relating to Hazardous Area Installations (Flammable Atmospheres) that takes its name from the French "Atmosphères Explosibles". It sets out a set of Essential Health & Safety Requirements (EHSR) which when followed should enable everyone in the industry to operate safely and to avoid incident. Two separate directives have been introduced covering Equipment (94/9/EC) and Safety of Working Operations (1999/92/EC).
--Directive 94/9/EC applies to all equipment and protective systems to be used in potentially explosive atmospheres.
--Directive 99/92/EC refers to the minimum requirements for the improvement of health and safety at work for employees.

Authorised person
A person approved or assigned by the employer to perform a specific type of duty or duties or to be at a specific location or locations at the jobsite.

 – The end user for fall protection equipment who has been trained to use and inspect fall protection equipment.

Authorised rescuer
An employee who has been trained to perform or assist with rescues.
Automatic descent control device
A device that, once engaged, lowers personnel at a controlled rate.


Back D-ring
Also known as the dorsal attachment or dorsal D-ring. Attachment point that is located on the back of the full-body harness, positioned between the shoulder blades.

Body Harness
Means straps which may be secured about the employee in a manner that will distribute the fall arrest forces over at least the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest and shoulders with means for attaching other components of a personal fall arrest system.

Body Support
Comes in the form of a full body harness that provides a connection point on the worker for the personal fall arrest system. Depending on the application, they can be used as part of a system to protect the worker from falling and to limit the extent of potential injury in case of a fall.


A link with a locking gate that is normally closed or automatically closes, and is used to connect components of a fall protection system. Also noted as a Karabiner Certified anchorage An anchorage that a qualified person determines to be capable of supporting fall arrest forces.

Climb Assist
A vertical system that assists the user in the ascent or descent of a fixed ladder to reduce fatigue.

Clearance (calculation)
To determine the required fall clearance add the appropriate factors together, this will give you the safe required distance (RD) below the working surface for work which is to be carried out where there is any risk of falling. Calculation: free fall distance energy absorber deceleration distance clearance to obstruction during fall arrest

Competent person
One who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees and who has authorisation to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

-Usually the day-to-day supervisor of individuals who work at heights. He or she conducts the fall hazard survey and identifies new and existing fall hazards and how to protect employees exposed to each hazard. The competent person may also supervise the selection, installation, use and inspection of non-certified anchorages in jurisdictions where this is permitted and verify that current systems are in compliance with applicable standards. He or she also ensures a rescue plan is in place for a fallen worker, participates in accident investigations, inspects equipment and removes from service damaged or otherwise unusable equipment.

Competent rescuer
An individual who develops procedures and methods for conducting a rescue for each foreseeable fall hazard prior to the commencement of work, ensures that the authorised rescuers have been properly trained and are proficient at performing rescues, and identifies the resources necessary to conduct a rescue and verifies those resources are on hand.

Connector (ABC’s of Personal Fall Protection)
A device that is used to connect components of personal fall arrest, fall restraint, work positioning or rescue systems. Connectors include but are not limited to lanyards, snap hooks, carabiners and Fall arrest devices and specialist systems such as self-retracting lifelines, ladder climbing systems, vertical lifelines and rope grabs.

Connector (Carabiner)
A carabiner may also be referred to as a connector.

Controlled access zone (CAZ)
An area in which certain work (e.g. overhead bricklaying) may take place without the use of guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems or safety net systems and access to the zone is controlled.

Confined space
An area that has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. 

Equipment is deemed compatible when they have been designed to work together in such a way that their size and shape do not cause them to separate inadvertently during use.

Counterweight system
A system that uses weights to provide a sturdy support structure to offset the weight of a worker.

A component that is integrated into fall protection equipment, commonly found on body support and some anchorage connectors, which allows for the attachment of a connecting device.

D-Ring Extension
A device that connects to the rear D-ring of a harness that enables easier connections to lanyards and other devices by extending the reach from the rear D-ring.

Davit Arm or Davit Post
Davits are an alternative to the basic tripod. They have a variety of base configurations to fit a wide variety of openings and holes.

Debris net
A netting system that is designed to contain debris. These systems are usually not rated for fall arrest.

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 fall arrest device begins to operate. It is measured as the distance between the location of an employee's body harness attachment point at the moment of activation (at the onset of fall arrest forces) of the fall arrest device during a fall, and the location of that attachment point after the employee comes to a full stop.

Demonstration Vehicle
Vehicles typically used for on-site fall protection training and demonstrations to conduct drop tests and showcase the proper use of fall protection equipment

Descent System
A system used to help safely lower a worker to a lower level of a structure or to the ground in a controlled manner.

Dorsal D-ring
Also known as the back D-ring. Attachment point that is located on the back of the full-body harness, positioned between the shoulder blades.

Double-leg lanyard
Also known as twin-leg lanyard. Two lanyards that are connected at one end. Used to provide 100 percent tie-off to keep the employee protected in the event of a fall at all times as he or she moves from one location to another.

Double or Triple Action Auto-locking Devices
A self-closing hook or carabiner with a gate which will automatically close and remain closed until manually opened. These units have a minimum of two (double) or three (triple) distinct and deliberate consecutive actions required to manually open them.


End Anchor
Anchorage points on each end of the horizontal lifeline system.

Energy absorber
Also known as shock absorber. An energy-absorbing unit that will limit the force exerted on the worker in the event of a fall.

Fall arrest
A form of fall protection that is designed to arrest a falling worker prior to them striking an object or a lower level.

Fall arrest force
Forces exerted on the body when a fall is arrested.

Fall arrest system
Also known as a personal fall arrest system. The complete collection of equipment and components that is designed to stop a fall in progress.

Fall clearance
The vertical distance needed to safely arrest a fall, between a working point  an objects or a lower level.

Fall hazard
Any location where an employee is exposed to a potential fall.

Fall indicator
A visual indicator that shows the fall arrest system or device has been used to arrest a fall.

Fall prevention
A type of fall protection that prevents a fall from occurring. This could be done through passive (Guardrails) or active (Restraint) means.

Fall protection
Methods used to minimise injury and associated costs, both monetary and human, due to falls.

Fall protection equipment
Equipment that is used by a worker to prevent or arrest a fall.

Fall protection plan
A plan that is needed whenever one or more workers are routinely exposed to fall hazards. The plan must be developed and consistently audited and updated to ensure that fall hazards are identified and controlled and that workers are aware of all hazards and trained in the appropriate control method. The plan should also include a rescue plan for each fall hazard.

Fall arrest systems
Systems that protect the worker after a fall from hitting the ground and/or obstructions below the work area. 

Fall restraint system
A system that prevents an employee’s centre of gravity from reaching a fall hazard.

First-Man-Up System
A system used to install and remove a fall protection device to an overhead location using a telescoping pole and adaptor tool.

Force is measured in Newtons (N). The weight of something in Newtons (N) is calculated by multiplying its mass in Kilograms (kg) by the value of Gravity, which is 9.81 (m/s2). A Kilogram (kg) is a unit of mass (i.e. the weight of a static object). Force = Mass x Acceleration. For rough calculation purposes: 1000N = 1kN, 1kN = 100kg, 10kN = 1000kg. 

The act of falling before a personal fall arrest system begins to apply force to arrest the fall.

Free fall distance 
The vertical displacement of the fall arrest attachment point on the employee's 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.

Frontal D-ring
A connector located on the front of a full-body harness in the sternum area.

Full-body harness
A means of supporting the body with straps that fasten around the user and distribute fall arrest forces over the upper thighs, pelvis, chest and shoulders.

Guardrail system
A passive form of fall prevention. Usually a barrier consisting of vertical and horizontal rails to prevent workers from reaching a fall hazard.

Any metal component such as a D-ring, snaphook or carabiner used to attach components of a fall protection system.

Hierarchy of control
The hierarchy of control is a sequence of options which allow you to control a hazard from the highest level of control to the least preferred option. These measures, in order, are: identification, elimination, substitution and isolation. If these are not practical, fall protection equipment must be used.

Horizontal lifeline system
A system comprised of a flexible line such as wire, rope or cable, with connectors at both ends for securing it horizontally between two anchorages or anchorage connectors.

Horizontal Life Line – Permanent
A permanently installed horizontal lifeline that is built into the structure for use as the anchorage not only during construction, but also for maintenance and repairs later on.

Horizontal Life Line – Temporary
A pre-engineered horizontal lifeline system that is easy to install/remove and can be used on more than one jobsite without damaging the surface that it is attached to.

Horizontal Rail System
A system comprised of a rigid rail, for use as the anchorage, secured  horizontally to a suitable structure.

Impact indicator
A visual reference that a piece of fall protection equipment has been involved in a fall and should be taken out of service.

Inertia Reel
An inertia-activated reel that retracts and releases. In the event of a fall the reel locks. Often referred to as an SRL or Blok.

Intermediate (HLL Reference)
Lifeline connection points that support the HLL at mid points and divide the overall length of the HLL into smaller spans.



A device used to connect a full-body harness to an anchorage or anchorage connector, usually made of rope or webbing material.

Leading Edge
The edge of a floor, roof or formwork for a floor or other walking/working surface (such as the deck) which changes location as additional floor, roof, decking or formwork sections are placed, formed or constructed. A leading edge is considered to be an "unprotected side and edge" during periods when it is not actively and continuously under construction.

Lifelines (this could be for VLLs, HLLs or SRLs/SRDs)
A component consisting of a flexible line for connection to an anchorage at one end to hang vertically (vertical lifeline), or for connection to anchorages at both ends to stretch horizontally (horizontal lifeline), and which serves as a means for connecting other components of a personal fall arrest system to the anchorage.

Limited free fall
Defined as a short free fall required so that the device used in arresting the fall can activate and complete arresting the fall.  Maximum free fall distances will vary somewhat depending on the device in use.  Consult standards and product owner’s manual to determine maximum free fall by device.
Load arrestor
A back-up safety device to completely stop a dropping load (material loads only, not personnel) if it breaks free from the main support line. It is typically used in conjunction with lifting equipment such as cranes and hoists.

Low-slope roof 
A roof having a slope less than or equal to 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal).

Lower levels
Those areas or surfaces to which an employee can fall. Such areas or surfaces include, but are not limited to, ground levels, floors, platforms, ramps, runways, excavations, pits, tanks, material, water, equipment, structures or portions thereof.

Manual descent control device
A friction device that, once engaged, requires the user to control lowering speed.

Netting system
Passive systems, usually designed to contain debris or for fall arrest.

Non-certified anchorage
An anchorage that a competent person determines to be adequate for the strength required for the type of fall protection system to be used, usually beams, trusses or other suitably strong structures.



Pass through buckle
Is composed of two mating flat metal frames. The female frame is an open rectangle that is permanently attached to a loop at the end of a strap. The male frame is attached to the joining strap by passing the webbing through the two slots in the frame. To engage the buckle, turn the male buckle at an angle so that it will pass through the female frame. After it has passed through, turn it back so that the male frame lies directly on top of the female frame.

Passive fall protection system
A means of providing fall protection that does not require an employee to wear or actively use equipment. This includes guardrails and personnel-rated netting systems.

Permit-required confined space
A space that has one or more of the following characteristics: (1) contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; (2) contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant; (3) has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section; or (4) contains any other recognised serious safety or health hazard (such as a fall hazard).

Personal fall arrest system (PFAS)
A system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a working level. It consists of an anchorage, connectors, a body belt or body harness and may include a lanyard, fall arrest device, lifeline or suitable combinations of these. As of 1 January 1998, the use of a body belt for fall arrest is prohibited.

Personnel net
A netting system that is designed to withstand fall arrest forces.

Pole Strap
A work positioning strap designed to be placed around a pole/structure and attached at two points, one on each side of a line worker’s harness belt D-rings while the user is working on the pole.

Positioning device
A body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning.

Positioning Belt
A configurable device used to protect a worker at heights while allowing them to position themselves to comfortably and safely complete a task with both hands. Normally used with of combined into a full body fall arrest harness, and fall arrest system.

Programme administrator
Individual responsible for all phases of the fall protection programme, including its development, implementation and ongoing monitoring. He or she must provide guidance to all those affected by the fall protection programme, assign all duties and responsibilities, provide training programmes, participate in accident investigations and evaluate the effectiveness of the programme.


Qualified person
One who, by possession of a recognised degree, certificate or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work or the project.

–Often this is an engineer, or someone with extensive knowledge of fall protection physics and equipment use.

Quick-connect buckle
A buckle that allows for one-handed operation for fast and easy donning of a full-body harness.

Rescue / Rescue plan
The ability to retrieve or rescue an individual from confined spaces or heights. An effective rescue plan must always be a component of any fall protection program.

Rescue Positioning Device (RPD)
A rescue or positioning system that allows the worker to simply raise or lower himself or someone else to a work level.

Rescue system
Equipment and components used to help a fallen worker return to the ground or location from which he or she fell, or that retrieves or evacuates an employee from dangerous situations or confined spaces.

Restraint System
An active form of fall prevention used to prevent a worker at heights from getting too close to the edge of a structure where a free fall could occur commonly includes a full body harness, lanyard and anchorage connector.

Risk Assessment
The evaluation of hazards within the worksite which have the potential to cause serious injury or illness.

Roll Out / Forced Roll Out
A circumstance when force is applied to the secure front locking gate on a carabiner or snap hook connector in such a way that it unintentionally opens or collapses, creating a disconnection in the fall arrest system.

Rope grab
A fall arrest device which travels on a lifeline and automatically, by friction, engages the lifeline and locks so as to arrest the fall of an employee. A rope grab usually employs the principle of inertial locking, cam/level locking or both.

The exterior surface on the top of a building. This does not include floors or formwork which, because a building has not been completed, temporarily becomes the top surface of a building.

Roofing work 
The hoisting, storage, application and removal of roofing materials and equipment, including related insulation, sheet metal and vapour barrier work, but not including the construction of the roof deck.


Safety-monitoring system
A system in which a competent person is responsible for recognising and warning employees of fall hazards. A means of administrative controls.

Safety Sleeve
For vertical systems, it shall be operated entirely by the person using the ladder safety system. It shall permit the person using the ladder safety system to ascend or descend without having to continually manipulate the safety sleeve.

Self-retracting lifeline/Self-retracting device
A fall arrest 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.

Service Centre (Factory Authorised)
A centre that has been approved by the manufacturer to repair and certify equipment.

Shock absorber
Also known as an energy absorber. An energy-absorbing unit that will limit the force exerted on the worker in the event of a fall.

Shock-absorbing lanyard
A connective device used with a personal fall arrest system that features an integral shock absorber to dissipate the energy of a fall, limiting fall arrest forces.

Shock-absorbing stretch lanyard
A connective device used with a personal fall arrest system that expands and contracts following the employee’s movement. Helps prevent trips, falls and snags.

Shock Pack
Part of the shock-absorbing lanyard that contains the energy absorber that will be deployed in the event of a fall.

For Horizontal systems, it shall be operated entirely by the person using the horizontal safety system. It shall permit the person using the horizontal safety system to freely move along the length of the system without having to continually manipulate the shuttle.

A connector comprised of a hook-shaped member with a normally closed keeper, or similar arrangement, which may be opened to permit the hook to receive an object and, when released, automatically closes to retain the object. As Snaphooks are connectors they must have at least 2 actions to open the keeper from its locked position.

The distance between intermediates or anchor points for a horizontal lifeline system.

A Self Retracting Lifeline, is an inertia-activated reel that retracts and releases. In the event of a fall the reel locks. Often referred to as a Blok.

Steep roof
A roof having a slope greater than 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal).

Sub-Pelvic Strap
A strap incorporated into a full body harness which passes under the buttocks connecting the two leg loops. It is designed to distribute the forces throughout the lower body to reduce the possibility of injury following a fall.

Suspension trauma
A condition that occurs when an employee is suspended in a harness after a fall, due to the restriction of blood flow. Can result in severe brain damage or even death and may occur in as little as fifteen minutes. 

Suspension trauma straps
A device that can be attached to or is integral on a full-body harness that is deployed following fall arrest and used to minimise the impact of suspension trauma. Also referred to as Suspension relief straps.

Swing fall
A pendulum-like motion resulting from a fall that occurs in a position located horizontally away from the anchorage.

Tie Back Lanyard
Acts as both the connecting means and an anchorage connector and comes in two styles. One incorporates an adjustable D-ring on the lanyard for attaching the snap hook and the other is designed for the hook to go around the webbing itself, which requires a specialist hook with a gate strength capacity of 5,000 pounds (22kN).

Tie-Off Adapter
Alternative anchorage connectors for a fall arrest system made of different materials, including cable, web and chain.

Travel Restraint
Control on a person’s movement by connection to an anchorage to physically prevent the person from reaching a position at which there is a risk of a fall hazard.

Lightweight, portable devices to provide an overhead temporary anchorage, usually used for manhole entry and retrieval applications.

Tongue Buckle
Similar to a belt buckle, the worker inserts the webbing strap through the buckle and places the buckle tongue into the grommet hole and adjusts for proper fit and comfort.

An anchorage connector that rolls along the I-beam to provide horizontal mobility to the worker.

Twin-leg lanyard 
Also known as double-leg lanyard. Two lanyards that are connected at one end. Used to provide 100 percent tie-off to keep the employee protected in the event of a fall at all times as he or she moves from one location to another.


Vertical lifeline system (VLL)
A system comprised of a flexible line such as wire, rope or cable, with a connector at the upper end, along which a fall arrester travels.


Walking/working surface 
Any surface, whether horizontal or vertical on which an employee walks or works, including, but not limited to, floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, formwork and concrete reinforcing steel but not including ladders, vehicles or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their job duties.

Woven fabric used on fall protection equipment components such as full-body harnesses and lanyards.

Wedge grip
Easily adjusted termination for wire rope cable, requires no tools to install and is 5,000 lb. (22Kn) rated.

A device that lifts and lowers loads and contains a mechanism that controls pay-out and take-up of the line. Provides a mechanical lifting advantage.

Work area
A portion of a walking/working surface where job duties are being performed.

Work Positioning
"A personal fall protection system which enables a user to work supported in tension
or suspension in such a way that a fall is prevented or restricted. Normally used in conjunction with a fall arrest system."

Work Positioning Belt
A configurable device used to protect a worker at heights while allowing them to position themselves to comfortably and safely complete a task with both hands. Normally used with of combined into a full body fall arrest harness, and fall arrest system.


3M Fall Protection combines the products and expertise of DBI-SALA® and Protecta® with the technology and innovation of 3M to elevate safety to new heights and keep workers comfortable, confident and safe every time they climb. See our products and services at 3M.com/FallProtection.
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