27.03.2023 | Technical Terms

Collective fall protection

Collective fall protection reliably secures all people located on a flat roof (maximum inclination 20 degrees) or on the upper surface of a flat machine. It neutralises the danger area by forming a barrier between the fall edge and the people located in the fall-risk area.

5 Ratings

Specialist series:

With collective protection, training in the use of the safety solution is unnecessary.

Collective fall protection at an airport

Collective protection means reliable protection without PPE

For employers or building owners, collective fall protection represents the optimum safety solution when they wish to provide simultaneous fall protection to all people on a flat roof or machine. In this case, regardless of the frequency of accessing or using the roof surface, collective protection represents a suitable safety solution. 

With collective protection, training in the use of the safety solution is unnecessary. Personal protective equipment against falls from a height (anti-fall PPE) is also unnecessary, because this is a mandatory requirement only when individual protection is used. 

Collective fall protection also differs, depending on the structure of the flat roof. For example, the roof type must be taken into account, e.g. whether a parapet roof substructure is present, or whether it is a green roof. Normally, collective protection refers to a roof guardrail, but scaffolding or barrier chains also count as collective protection. However, care is required with barrier chains, because a barrier chain is merely a visual boundary to a danger area. Of itself, a barrier chain creates no protection against falling. 


Guardrails as collective protection

On a flat roof or on the flat surface of machines, protection can be provided by means of collective protection in the form of guardrails. Guardrail fall protection systems are held in place by superimposed load. Concrete weights can be used as the superimposed load in order to retain the guardrail to the roof correctly. 

Conversely, this means that the roof is additionally loaded with the weight of the fall protection. This fact is very significant even at the planning stage for the fall protection system, especially in terms of statics and roof loading. 

Collective protection reliably eliminates the danger of a fall at a fall edge. Such systems are therefore a means of protecting workers in fall-risk areas from falling from a height.


Guardrail system with weights as superimposed load

The BARRIER-VARIO guardrail system is used wherever the fall edges of a flat roof up to a maximum pitch of 10° must be protected. The guardrail held in place by superimposed concrete weights creates a barrier around the fall-risk area, and thus ...


Guardrail system installed on parapet

The BARRIER PARAPET guardrail system is suitable only for combination with an existing parapet construction. Once the system has been attached to the parapet construction, it provides optimum fall protection for all persons located on the roof. ...


Guardrail system around skylights/strip lights

The BARRIER SKYLIGHT guardrail system is used wherever skylights must be protected on roofs of up to 10° inclination. Regardless of the size of the skylight, the superimposed load system provides optimum fall protection, and thereby neutralises ...

In which areas is collective protection used?

Collective fall protection is used:

  • On a flat roof having an inclination up to 20°
  • On the upper surface of machines 
  • To protect the area around skylights / strip lights
  • To create an escape route on a flat roof, or
  • To secure the side area of an ascent ladder, i.e. the transit from the ladder to the roof

In practice various safety solutions or fall protection systems can be combined with each other, in order to provide sufficient protection onsite, and thus in areas of increased fall risk.

For example, in addition to the area at the side of an ascent ladder, guardrail protection can also secure against falls from the other fall edge on the roof. 


Advantages of a collective protection system

  • It provides all-round protection on a flat roof, and creates simultaneous fall protection for all persons located on the roof.
  • The people working on the roof can focus 100% on their activities, because they can perform them under complete protection.
  • No roof penetration, because collective fall protection is a safety variant secured by superimposed load. 


Disadvantages of a collective protection system

  • A guardrail on a roof often spoils the building or structure’s appearance.
  • Not every roof is suitable for a collective fall protection system. Often the statics of the building do not permit the additional loading required for the safety solution. In this case, an individual protection solution must be implemented. 
  • For example, where a PV system is located on a flat roof, a collective protection solution could cast shadows on the panels. This in turn can negatively affect the output of the photovoltaic system.


In order to ensure safety in the workplace, the use of collective protection measures and/or of an appropriate fall protection system is a legal requirement in most countries, such as Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. In this way, a safe working environment is created for everybody. 


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