Every year, OSHA announces its top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards, and fall protection has remained at the top of that list for 11 years in a row, including the most recent preliminary data released by the agency in October for fiscal year 2021.1 Falls remain the leading cause of fatal injuries in the workplace.
There were 1,102 fatal injuries in the construction industry in 2019 in private industry and government. These deaths represent 20.7 percent of total workplace fatalities in the United States (5,333).2 Falls, slips, and trips are the most frequent type of fatality in the construction industry, representing 37.9 percent of all fatalities (418 of 1,102), which is a 22.9 percent increase over 2018.
When working at heights, you need equipment you can rely on to prevent injury. Petzl’s ASAP mobile fall arrester has been providing that peace of mind for well over a decade.
The ASAP vertical lifeline is a temporary fall arrest system designed to protect against falls from height. The ASAP moves along the rope without manual operation. At moderate speeds, the locking wheel turns freely in both directions and locks onto the rope when the wheel speeds up. When used on a lifeline with complementary products the device is tested and certified to the EN 353-2 and ANSI Z359.15 standards.
Mike Wiley, Safety Director at Tatley-Grund, has been working with the Petzl ASAP since its release. Tatley-Grund, based in Seattle, is a repair renovation contractor that does large-scale exterior and waterproofing repairs on commercial and multifamily properties.
Wiley says he began using the Petzl ASAP as a backup when it first came on the market. He now uses it for all his workers at Tatley-Grund, where the brand technicians use the ASAP as their primary fall arrest system.
‘The device will follow you'
Michel Goulet, Petzl’s National Sales Manager says, “if the wheel moves too quickly, centrifugal forces act on the wheel’s internal brake mechanism to lock it. Once it’s locked, the vertical lifeline gets pinched between the body of the device and the wheel itself and there’s no more movement,” he said.
For example, Goulet said, “if someone is working on a sloped rooftop and slides downwards, the wheel will also speed up and lock. One of the key elements with ASAP units is that they follow you while you’re doing your work at height without having to manipulate the device. Just with a slight tug on your ASAP’SORBER energy absorbing lanyard used with the ASAP units, and the device will follow you.”
Wiley of Tatley-Grund agrees that it’s a great device for working on rooftops. When workers are walking around rooflines, he said, they can focus more on their work without the need to constantly tend their fall arrester.” When set up and used properly, Petzl ASAP “minimizes fall distance to almost a negligible amount. It allows a lot for self-rescue. If you slip on the swing stage then you're locked-off fast enough that you can most likely just step up off the rails to unlock the device instead of having someone come out and perform a rescue.”
Self-tracking ability is a bonus as well. Wiley said with other systems, workers have to constantly reach down and pull up their rope to travel. “In a lot of cases, people will unintentionally override that backup device, and that’s where the ASAP has become a very good substitute for its competition.”
“There are certain fall arresters on the market that if you grab them in a particular way, they're not going to function,” Goulet said. “So what's nice about the ASAP is that it will stop the fall even if the user grasps or holds it.”
Wiley said his company has found the ASAP to be better than traditional systems. “We’re using the ASAP vertical lifeline systems on swing stages and on sloped rooftop locations mainly because it’s a simple to maintain, very user-friendly fall arrest device that minimizes free fall distance.”
The ASAP LOCK
What makes the ASAP and ASAP LOCK different from one another, Goulet says, is essentially that the ASAP LOCK, as the name suggests, has a locking button on the device.
“If you engage the locking mechanism, the ASAP LOCK will only go up on the rope — it will not come down,” Goulet said. “So where this is an advantage is if you're working at height in a particular area, you can lock your ASAP on your lifeline above your head. In the unlikely event of a descender malfunction or somehow you became disconnected from your suspension system, the ASAP is already above your head and locked so your freefall distance would be to a minimum.”
For general industry or construction workers who are working on sloped rooftops installing shingles, solar panels and similar jobs, the ASAP would work well. But, for somebody working on wind turbines or bridges where there is usually lots of wind, the ASAP LOCK would be their preferred model as the locking mechanism keeps the rope from being pushed upwards through the device.
Goulet said another nice advantage with the ASAP LOCK is when a worker needs to disconnect and reconnect it to the lifeline, like when passing a knot or anchorage point. There is a mechanism that allows the worker to take it off the rope, without disconnecting from the harness, which reduces the risk of creating a drop hazard with the device.
A backup system to rely on
Workers who are suspended by rope or supported by a swing stage need to have a backup vertical lifeline system, which is where the ASAP comes in. Goulet says, “OSHA regulatory requirements, and ANSI recommendations require the use of a secondary personal fall arrest system for redundancy in those situations. People have discovered the ASAP, which is a product that’s easy to use and effective for what they need to use it for.”
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Fatal and nonfatal falls, slips, and trips in the construction industry at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/fatal-and-nonfatal-falls-slips-and-trips-in-the-construction-industry.htm