What Is the Difference Between Passive and Active Fall Protection Systems?

fall prevention

Falls are the cause of many tragic accidents every year. According to the CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety), more than 42,000 workers are victims of falls in Canada. It is therefore crucial to ensure the safety of your employees on the roof with the right safety devices. To prevent accidents, check out our comprehensive guide for active and passive fall protection plans, as well as everything there is to know about safety equipment.

Active vs. passive fall protection plans: what is a fall protection device?

Before determining the differences between an active plan and a passive one, it’s important to know what they refer to. Fall protection systems are pieces of equipment that are provided to workers to protect them either individually or collectively from the risk of falls.

Difference between active and passive fall protection plans

To prevent accidents, you can develop an active and passive fall protection plan, but do you know the differences? The main difference lies in the fact that an active protection plan serves to stop falls, while a passive plan is there to prevent them in case of tripping or slipping. Now let’s discover the differences between active and passive plans in terms of equipment.

Passive fall protection devices

A passive fall protection system is equipment that is designed to protect people collectively and is designed to prevent falls. Also, they are non-dynamic, stationary, and do not need any adaptation while in use. This equipment does not require any active participation. Examples of passive fall arrest equipment include:

Freestanding guardrail systems

When it comes to active or passive fall protection plans, the best fall protection device is always the freestanding guardrail system. They are easy to spot for workers and offer optimal protection against falls when working on a roof.

Fixed guardrails: the differences between fixed and freestanding

The main difference between fixed and freestanding guardrails is that freestanding guardrails are easy to move. Freestanding guardrails can also be modified due to their modular nature, which allows you greater flexibility in terms of the protection offered.

For example, you can move it for work in a specific area of your roof and set it up according to the needs of the at-risk area. Then, on another day, move it around and set it up in an entirely different way.

Definition fixed guardrails

By definition, fixed guardrails are fixed to the roof, unlike freestanding guardrails, which are easy to install without perforation. Although they are effective at the edges of the roof, fixed guardrails require installation work and are not as configurable as freestanding.

The other elements to be protected to prevent falls

We strongly recommend installing a guardrail at the edges of the roof, but also for any element of the roof that may cause an accident, such as access hatches near access ladders as well as around skylights.

The active fall protection plan

The main difference between active and passive fall protection plans is that active plans are in place to limit movement or stop a free fall. The equipments in this category is therefore not in place to prevent falls, but to stop them.

Active fall protection plan: effective for individual protection

Unlike passive fall protection systems, these equipments also require the participation of the worker—for example, by wearing personal protective equipment that will interact with the fall protection device. We are therefore talking much more about individual than collective protection here.

The equipment for an active protection plan

This equipment is also classified according to two categories: restraint equipment and fall protection equipment. Generally speaking, an active protection system secures a worker attached to an anchor point with a lanyard. The lanyard exists either to prevent the worker from reaching a hazardous area or to stop a fall.

Here is the equipment for an active fall protection plan:

  • Harness;
  • Anchor;
  • Cord;
  • Connector;

Contact Delta Prevention for your passive fall protection

If you have any questions about equipment for a passive fall protection plan, contact the protection experts from Delta Prevention. We will be pleased to share our knowledge about fall protection equipment with you.


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fall protection, fall protection equipment, passive fall protection