Fall Protection Equipment: How To Find The Right Full Body Harnesses And Inspect Them

Sep 2, 2014 by

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there is an average of 150 to 200 fatalities reported each year due to falls in the construction industry. In addition, more than 100,000 workers are injured each year due to accidents involving falls. Fall protection training is designed for anyone who is working at heights exceeding 3 meters, so that they have the knowledge necessary to protect themselves. Having the right fall protection equipment is crucial in this equation. This article will focus on the use of full body harnesses.

What Are Full Body Harnesses?

Individuals that are at risk of falling wear full body harnesses. Keep in mind that an individual wearing a harness who has fallen may not have the means to get up on his or her own. It is important that the entire team has developed a sound strategy for helping fallen individuals up.

Full body harnesses typically consist of straps that are wrapped around the shoulders, across the chest, and around the legs for maximum protection. In the event that you unfortunately fall, full body harnesses will be able to provide more protection than safety belts as they distribute the force of impact over the entire body.

What Should You Look For In Full Body Harnesses

Full body harnesses that are designed specifically for fall protection differ significantly from harnesses that are designed for other applications, such as ladder climbing, controlled descent, and work positioning. If you are on the market for a full body harness, you should look for one that has:

  • a back-mounted D-ring that is located in between the shoulder blades. This D-ring will be responsible for distributing the impact over the entire body, and also providing you with support.
  • the letter “A” stenciled on each shoulder strap that is below the D-ring with an arrow that points to the D-ring. This arrow and the “A” is to help you identify the only D-ring on the harness that is used to arrest a fall, and will also help you identify whether you are wearing your full body harness correctly. 
  • extra padding for comfort made from breathable material, especially if you are going to be wearing the full body harness for long periods of time.
  • tangle free designs that will prevent you from literally getting tangled.
  • adjustability. You will want to make sure that you can adjust the straps of the full body harness so that it perfectly fits your body. This will reduce the force of impact and ensure greater distribution. In short, it can reduce your risk of getting injured.

How Do You Inspect Your Full Body Harnesses?

Every time before you put the full body harnesses, you need to inspect them to make sure that they are still in good condition and able to offer the protection needed during a fall. If your harness is a damaged or even show sign of wear, you should not wear it and get another one. Signs of wear can show weaknesses in the structural integrity of the harnesses. This may indicate that the harnesses are not capable of offering the protection needed. Steps for inspecting your full body harnesses will include looking at the:

  • friction belts. The friction belts are interlocking. You should check for signs of damage, such as any areas that are bent, cracked, or nicked. You should also test the buckles to make sure that the coupling is secure.
  • webbing. Look for fraying, loose or broken stitching and other signs of wear.
  • D-rings. Since the D-rings are responsible for the arrest during the fall, you will want to make sure that the D-rings are not cracked, nicked or bent. Also, look out for gouged rings.

Conclusion

If you are at risk of falling in your job, you will want to make sure that you have the right full body harnesses on. These harnesses may end up saving your life or reducing your chances of getting seriously injured. There are many different variations and designs on the market. Some professionals in the industry may even get fitted to ensure that the full body harnesses are tailor-made for their bodies.

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