The HSE has carried out a review of Soft Landing Systems after recent popularity in building sites.
Soft landing systems, such as mats or bags filled with air or soft materials, have recently become a popular method of collective protection for minimising the consequences of a fall from height. These systems are particularly popular in the house building sector.
However, the HSE had concerns about the effectiveness of these systems and recently carried out a review of the existing evidence.
Providing the system was properly installed and fully functioning, for a person falling less than the recommended height for the system (typically 2.5m to 2.7m) the forces and deceleration associated with the impact are within tolerable levels for humans. When the device is of sufficient thickness (to avoid bottoming out to the ground on impact,) the risk of injury is low and the system dissipates energy to prevent bouncing.
However, the review did also find that there is an increased risk of injury if the person lands near the edge of the system due to the risk of bottoming out. Also there is a separate risk of injury if the person strikes an object e.g. beams or roof trusses, during the fall. A falling person may also strike other people or objects that have already fallen, or may be struck by other falling materials once they have landed.
The full report can be found on the HSE website at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr1145.htm