OSEA Safety Blog

Fall Protection Harnesses

Tuesday, March 10, 2020 Greg Santo

Using fall protection equipment is becoming very common these days, as we get educated on the need. So, it is important to understand the components, how they work and how to inspect.

When thinking about the use of a fall protection harness, fall protection or a fall hazard plan must be considered. After all, the harness is what is going to arrest your fall, so you better understand its role.

The harness fits around your trunk, and is secured at your waist; it must be snug, and you must have hands-on training, like all other personal protective equipment (PPE), on how to properly wear the harness. The harness must be inspected before each use, checking for the following:

  • Cuts, nicks or tears
  • Broken fibers/cracks
  • Overall deterioration
  • Modifications by user
  • Fraying/abrasions
  • Hard or shiny spots indicate heat damage
  • Webbing thickness uneven indicates possible fall
  • Missing straps
  • Undue stretching indicates possible fall
  • Burnt, charred or melted fibers indicate heat damage
  • Excessive hardness or brittleness indicates heat or ultraviolet damage
  • Pulled stitches
  • Stitching that is missing
  • Cut stitches
  • Distortion (twists, bends)
  • Rough or sharp edges
  • Rust or corrosion
  • Broken/distorted grommets
  • Modification by users (i.e. additional holes)
  • Tongue buckle should overlap the buckle frame and move freely back and forth in their socket
  • Roller of tongue buckles

If any of these items are present, the harness fails inspection and must be destroyed or returned to the manufacturer. We tend to accept the condition of PPE when we put it on, but all PPE must be inspected before use; your life depends on it. There are multiple cases of harnesses and other elements of the fall protection failing with fatal outcomes.

At the back of the harness, is the dee-ring; if worn properly, it should be between your shoulder blades.

Let’s introduce a new term; the personal fall arrest system, abbreviated as PFAS. It consists of the harness, and also the lanyard, that will hook onto the dee-ring, what type of lanyard do you need? Well, what is your task? And, importantly, the anchorage! You must understand what is allowed for use to obtain the 5,000# rating required for one person. Without a good anchorage, it’s the same as just wearing the harness unattached!

Back again, to the development of the fall protection plan.

You may need a standard shock-absorbing lanyard, or perhaps a self-retracting lanyard (sometimes abbreviated as an SRL, and also called a yoyo). Again, the question must be asked, what is the job you are performing?

Another thing to remember; if the PFAS is involved in a fall event, all of the elements involved must be taken out of service, and either destroyed or returned to the manufacturer.

Be Safe!

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