A safety harness is a form of personal protective equipment designed to protect workers from falling from height and sustain the worker for rescue. The safety harness is an attachment between a stationary and non-stationary object and is usually fabricated from rope, cable or webbing and locking hardware. Some safety harnesses are used in combination with a shock absorber, which is used to regulate deceleration when the end of the rope is reached.
The safety harness which uses a different concept from the body belt helps distributes the force resulting from slip to part of the body that is strong enough the handle it, like large muscles of the upper thighs, chest and shoulders, as well as the bony mass of the pelvis.
A full safety harness comprises of five (5) major components:
- The body strap
- The D-Ring (Dorsal D-Ring) which serves a link between the body strap and the lanyard. It is also used as the rescue anchorage point.
- The lanyard which links the body strap to the anchorage point.
- The anchorage which is always attached to a stationery point which will suspend the worker in-case of any slip.
- Connecting and Adjusting buckles (iron and plastics)
Safety precautions when using the safety harness
- It must be properly worn always. The body strap should be adjusted using the adjusting buckle to make it fit and avoid sagging.
- It must be inspected by a competent person daily before use.
- Workers should be train on the use of the safety harness
- The lanyard should be long enough not to obstruct the activity, but should not affect the safety of the device.
- The anchor point should be strong enough to the sustain the worker in case of any fall.
- The anchor point should always be above the Dorsal D-Ring as far as possible.
- Adequate Safety harness should be chosen depending on the type of job to be carried. It should be determined when an harness with a single lanyard is required and when a harness with a double lanyard is required.
- The working weight of the harness should be ascertained before use. Most harness working weight is 310 Ibs; if the weight exceeds the harness working weight, harness with higher working weight should be used.
Characteristics of the safety harness anchor point
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines the parameters for a safe anchorage point in Section 1910.66 (Appendix C) as follows:
“Anchorages to which personal fall arrest equipment is attached shall be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) per employee attached, or shall be designed, installed, and used as part of a complete personal fall arrest system which maintains a safety factor of at least two, under the supervision of a qualified person.”
“The anchorage should be rigid, and should not have a deflection greater than .04 inches (1 mm) when a force of 2,250 pounds (10 kN) is applied.”
4 Inspection point for safety harness
- Hardware: Any metal aspect of the harness e.g The buckles, Snap hooks, D-rings, etc
- The Fabric: Example the straps, packs, pouches, wire cable, etc.
- Stitching: All the sewn point for any sign of disengagement.
- Tag: This carries the manufacturers information. The information may be beneficial during inspection, like the service life duration and working weight of the harness.
If the harness fails this inspection, it should be put out of use.