What is restraint technique when working at heights?

A restraint technique controls a person’s movement by physically preventing the person reaching a position at which there is a risk of a fall. It consists of a harness that is connected by a lanyard to an anchorage or horizontal life line. It must be set up to prevent the wearer from reaching an unprotected edge.

A restraint technique is suitable for use where:

  • „„the user can maintain secure footing without having to tension the restraint line and
    without the aid of any other hand hold or lateral support. When deciding whether secure footing can be maintained, consider:
    „„  *  the slope of the surface
    „„  *  the supporting material type
    „„  *  the surface texture of the surface and whether it is likely to be wet, oily or otherwise slippery
  • „„the horizontal life lines are fitted with an industrial shock absorber when required
  • „„the restraint system conforms with AS/NZS 1891 Industrial fall-arrest systems and devices series.

Restraint techniques should only be used if it is not reasonably practicable to prevent falls by providing a physical barrier (for example, a guard rail). This is because restraint techniques require a high level of user skill to operate safely and also greater supervision.

A restraint system should be installed by a competent person in accordance with the
manufacturer’s instructions. Restraint anchorage should be designed for fall-arrest loading.

An individual fall-arrest system should be used instead of restraint techniques if any of the
following situations apply:

  • „„the user can reach a position where a fall is possible
  • „„the user has a restraint line that can be adjusted in length so that a free fall position can be reached
  • „„there is a danger the user may fall through the surface, for example fragile roofing material „„the slope is over 15 degrees


Training in the use of these systems is supplied in a Safe Working at Heights Course