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  3. HSE warns on retractable type fall arresters

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned the construction industry of the dangers of abusing retractable type fall arresters following the interim findings of a research project commissioned by HSE.

Frequently referred to as 'inertia blocks' as they are used to protect workers from falling, the HSE research found that retractable type fall arresters are frequently used in conditions for which they were not designed, jeopardising worker safety.

David Thomas, principal specialist inspector and HSE's technical lead on fall protection issues, reiterated the call for caution when using this specialist equipment:

"All industry sectors are exposed to the risks presented by falls from height and these findings underline the need for employers and workers to ensure retractable type fall arresters are used in the correct way.

"They should be used only in the vertical plane with an overhead anchor unless the manufacturer’s instructions clearly state otherwise. If this equipment is used in any other way, or combined with other components in a fall arrest system, it may be unsafe and could result in injury or fatality."

Meanwhile, the HSE also found that the problem is being exacerbated by the fact that some manufacturers and suppliers in the UK are not providing adequate instructions to use the products safely.

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