According to OSHA, fall hazards are the leading cause of injury at construction sites. Here at Online Stores, Inc., we have three e-commerce sites that sell safety harnesses: Construction Gear, Discount Safety Gear, and The Safety Girl. No matter why you are buckling up, you will find appropriate harnesses at these sites. Please understand while we also sell body belts, these belts are only to maintain a worker’s position in awkward positions. They are NOT intended for fall protection or fall arrest. This blog writing is only for safety harnesses, the only gear we recommend for fall arrest.
I set out this morning to find out more about safety harnesses. It’s amazing what they can do for such a reasonable cost, considering what they go through and the consequences if you don’t use one, right? Everything from expensive fines, to injury or even death. Makes me want to go out and get one even for reroofing my first-story porch!
Because we are safety-conscious here, I have to interject my disclaimer before we get going: I am not a pro. I don’t even play one on TV. Everything I know about safety harnesses was a result of studying the products and what the professionals have to say. And they all say, it’s on you. Regardless who your boss is, what the brand is, what type it is, or the condition it’s in, it’s on you. It’s your life. It is your responsibility for knowing the proper care and usage of your safety harness. It’s your call to strap that harness on.
That said, let’s dig in!
Safety harnesses and peripheral types differ based on the job, but all fall arrest equipment includes the ABC pieces: Anchorage, Body wear, and Connector. If you are doing elevated work like repointing, you would also have a suspension device (like a swing). If you must maintain a difficult position, you would also have a positioning assembly (like a belt). If you are entering a confined space, you would also have a retrieval device (like a tripod with pulley).
The device’s purpose isn’t to prevent a fall but to prohibit impact. That said, once you go, it’s about 15 minutes before the professionals arrive to get you down. Therefore, there are neat leg attachments called Relief Step Safety Devices that allow you to put your feet in a more natural position and support them while you wait. I didn’t know that!
All About the Fit
I was surprised to find there are myriad videos showing how to properly don a harness. Evidently there are a bunch of ways that part can go wrong, negating any benefit of the fall device. That’d be me. Supposedly, there are six easy steps to putting on a harness. I haven’t actually tried this, but on paper they seem pretty cut and dried.
- Hold the harness by the D-ring and shake to allow it to fall into place.
- Unbuckle all buckles.
- Slip the straps over the shoulders like a vest.
- Pull the end of the leg straps, one at a time, between the legs and secure to the opposite end. If the harness has a belt, connect that.
- Connect the chest strap and tighten shoulder straps.
- Adjust so that the harness fits snug, but allows full range of motion.
Care and Maintenance of Your New Pet
The life expectancy of a safety harness is five years. Even knowing that, it is imperative that you inspect your device before every use. Test the webbing by grasping it with hands 6-8” apart and bend into an inverted “U.” Look for frayed edges, broken fibers, pulled stitches, cuts, burns, or chemical damage. Check D-rings for corrosion, distortion, cracks, breaks and rough or sharp edges. Inspect for broken stitching or other signs of wear, of the D-ring attachments. Inspect buckles for unusual wear and frayed surrounding fibers. Buckles should mate firmly. Check grommets for signs of wear – do not punch additional belt holes! Look for signs of activation on the lanyard. Once it’s deployed, it should not be reused. Make sure the lanyard’s springs are tight and the hooks can close firmly. Look for fraying along the lanyard. Inspect it for cuts, snags, and breaks. On a retractable lanyard, make sure the locking mechanism works. Never tie a knot in a lanyard – it reduces the strength by 50%. This Miller by Honeywell video is a comprehensive tutorial on creating a safety plan; fall prevention proper care, usage, and inspection of your safety harness; and the different types and styles of equipment. It’s under a half hour and a great investment of your time!