When to use a full body harness
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When using personal fall protection equipment,
wear a full body harness if you are at risk of falling.
A full body harness consists of straps passed over
the shoulders, across the chest, and around the legs.
In a fall, a protects you more than
a safety belt because the harness distributes the
force of impact over a greater area of your body.
Using the right
A designed to arrest falls should
A back-mounted D-ring located between the
The letter “A” stenciled on each shoulder strap
below the D-ring (as shown in bottom diagram)
An arrow stenciled above each letter “A” pointing
up at the D-ring
The arrows on the shoulder straps point to the only
D-ring on the harness designed to safely arrest a fall
Full Body Harness
What Does Full Body Harness Mean?
A is a holding device used to protect workers from falls by distributing the force of the fall over a large area of the body, ensuring that the subject of the fall remains suspended in an upright position after the fall has occurred. It is designed to minimize the risk of injuries caused by suspension. Body belts were previously used in fall protection, but their use was discontinued by OSHA in 1998 owing to their role in causing internal injuries.
Full Body Harness
Fall arrest systems must be implemented in any situation that requires an employee to work more than 6 feet from the ground. The device should prevent a free-fall exceeding 6 feet and should allow for a deceleration distance of 3.5 feet. The maximum arresting force for a fall protection system is 1,800 pounds. The load capacity of a fall protection system should be at least double that required in order to check a free-fall of six feet. As with other types of safety equipment, the harness should be inspected daily and should not be used if there are any signs of wear and tear or damage. Once a harness has arrested a fall, it should not be re-used until it has been inspected by a competent person.
A full body harness is a harness designed to hold the wearer upright in the event of a fall from height. If worn correctly, a full body harness will distribute the energy generated during free-fall across the wearers’ body evenly, reducing the potential for serious injury.
Full-body harnesses should be the first choice when it comes to working at height because they offer:
How are full body harnesses designed?
When looking at how full body harnesses are designed, there are a few common features that you can expect to see on any full body harness:
When should you wear a full body harness?
Before you carry out any work at height, you should always assess the potential risks. Unfortunately, falling from height is a common cause of injuries and fatalities in the workplace. It’s important that you know when a full body harness is, or isn’t required. Your employee should carry out a full risk assessment before you carry out any work at height, notifying you if a full body harness is required while you complete your tasks.
Your employer might ask you to wear a full body harness if:
Choosing the right full body harness
In situations where a fall from height is a serious risk, you don’t want to be putting on any old harness and making your ascent. Choosing a full body harness that suits your weight and job requirements is paramount for your safety. Your full body harness should always:
The Complete Guide to Full Body Harnesses
Proper fall protection is often the only thing standing between you and serious injury or death. For full safety, it’s critical to choose the right full body harnesses for yourself and your team. Understanding the design and use empowers you to make the right decisions when it comes to your fall protection gear. This equipment will guard against accidents, maintain your company’s OSHA compliance, and create a better workplace for everyone involved.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is a Full Body Harness?
A full body harness is a safety harness that connects the worker to the fall protection system anchored into the structure they’re working on. Using a series of straps that fit around the thighs, hips, chest, shoulders, and back, these harnesses arrest falls while minimizing injury to the worker. Full body harnesses are also designed to keep wearers upright after a fall to prevent suspension trauma and facilitate faster rescue.
As you’ll see below, however, the harnesses recommended today haven’t always been the most common option. It took several decades to develop a full body option that doesn’t prolong the danger caused by a workplace fall.
Full Body Harness vs. Body Belt
Initially, fall protection systems relied on a single belt, usually made of leather or canvas and worn around the waist, to prevent falls. Though this did arrest some falls, it wasn’t always successful. And when it did work, it often created new dangers, including:
In the 1970s and 1980s, workers began using two lanyards for additional safety. Known as a “100% tie-off system,” the second lanyard offered backup protection if anything happened to the first. It didn’t, however, prevent the hazards of using body belts. If you fell “correctly,” horizontally, you were often fine, but falling in any other position put you at serious risk.
Several safety organizations, including OSHA, tested body belts throughout the late 1900s. In one test performed by the British Standards Institute’s National Engineering Lab, the body belt folded the dummy in half, slamming its head against the surface below. In another study by OSHA, engineers determined that an average-sized woman could survive for 2.5 minutes while suspended in a body belt. The average-sized man would only last 32 seconds.
Though some companies used safety harnesses rather than just body belts as early as the 1940s, they didn’t become common until OSHA banned body belts as the only form of fall protection in 1998. Inspired by the harnesses used by paratroopers, manufacturers developed harnesses that strapped across the upper and lower body to distribute weight more evenly.
Construction includes multiple types of work. Depending on the task, type of construction, and size of the building, the harnesses required may vary. If someone is working from a ladder, for instance, a positioning harness frees their hands and movements while protecting them from a fall. Painters may use a suspension harness to access sections of the building while hanging from above. If working above a 6-foot or more distance, such as roofing, all of your employees will need to use personal fall protection systems.
Construction workers often need their tools close at hand, so it’s also important to find harnesses that can hold both the user’s weight and the added strain from their tools. Generally, construction safety harnesses carry this weight on padded belts.
When climbing towers or other structures, there are several things to take into consideration. This work takes place outside, so you need to evaluate the weather conditions your workers will face. In extreme conditions, will your harnesses only add to their discomfort and risk? Climbing takes a lot of strength, so you may want to choose harnesses with lighter components to reduce the weight your workers have to carry. Tower climber harnesses should also include seat support for comfortable suspension.