The Term MAF, also known as Maximum Arrest Force, comes directly from Section 102 of The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996 under clause (c) which states that "An employer or contractor shall ensure that a personal fall arrest system required by these regulations...applies a peak fall-arrest force not greater than eight kilo-newtons to a worker..."
A kilo-newton is a force that is equal to approximately 225 lbs-force. Where the Saskatchewan fall-arrest legislation states Max Arrest Force is 8kN, this is equal to 1800 lbs-force. So how do we abide by this legislation and what does it mean?
In the Northern Strands Fall Protection course, they train that Personal Fall Arrest Systems should be a last resort, but S102(c) was put in place to make sure that the risk of injury from the fall-arrest equipment itself is reduced.
There are 3 principal ways we can make sure that we don't exceed the MAF:
1) Keep Free Fall to a minimum - use the shortest possible lanyard, anchor well overhead, and use retractables.
2) Minimize Weight - limit the number of tools that will be supported by the full-body harness.
3) Use the Most Distance possible to come to a stop.
This last point might be hard to imagine, but picture it like this: would you rather bring your vehicle to a stop using brakes over a distance of a block, or would you rather bring your vehicle to a stop against a brick wall? The energy of any moving object whether its a falling person or a moving vehicle has to be reduced gradually or there will be an excessive stopping (arresting) force put on the object.
These two controls are actually outranked by another. What about not performing the work at heights in the first place? Obviously this is not always a practical solution, but nonetheless its worth considering. Even trying to relocate certain job steps to the ground level is better and safer than performing 100% of the work at heights. Give us a call and we can help you out with some more proactive fall protection solutions.
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