39% of fatalities in construction-related activity in the USA are the result of falls that are the NO. 1 cause of work-related deaths in construction. Many companies just ask workers to get a harness out of a gang box for any kind of work. Stop doing it. In this post, we'll explain how to choose the right safety harness and lanyard for working at height with 10 FAQs.
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Your harness is one of the industry-known ''ABC'' fall protection components - ''A'' for anchor point, ''B'' for body support and ''C'' for connecting device. A safety harness is designed to protect you in a fall when a connecting device ''C'' is attached properly between a secure anchor ''A'' and your harness ''B'' via D-rings on it.
What is the D ring on a safety harness used for?
D-ring on a safety harness is the attachment point to a connecting device like a lanyard, used to equally distribute the forces of the fall throughout the whole body when deployed properly. This, in turn, protects vulnerable body parts such as the groin, abdomen, and neck against serious injury. Don’t think the more attachment points, the safer.
This only attachment point is located on the back (Dorsal D-ring), positioned between the shoulder blades. As the primary attachment point for lanyards or fall arresters, this D-ring can be found on every harness we carry at MTN SHOP. The Checkmate 1-Point Fall Arrest Body Harness is a great option. This lightweight harness offers 4 points of adjustment to ensure that it fits you comfortably and properly.
In Fall Arrest, an “arrest” occurs after a person freefalls through space. While this system allows users more freedom to move, it comes with a greater risk of falling. It is intended to stop a worker’s fall that has already happened and reduces the fall-generated forces on the user. It should be used when you work near a fragile surface, narrow ledge or other situations where you might fall off or into the building.
In Fall Restraint, however, the worker is restrained from reaching a fall hazard. The fall restraint lanyard acts as a leash, preventing the worker from reaching the leading edge. Sometimes, due to restricted free-fall distances (e.g. low building height, vehicles or machinery in or around the building reducing available height to have the fall arrested safely), a restraint system would be the only choice. The system also does not require a rescue plan as no fall happens.
The 2 attachment points of a 2-point harness are on the back(Dorsal D-ring) and the front (Front D-ring). TIPS: The attachment points that are certified for fall arrest are indicated by manufacturers on the harness by a letter ''A'', making wearers identify the appropriate points easily. Don't forget to check out our new harness addition - Petzl Harness (2 Point Newton EasyFit)
✔ Both points are permitted for fall arrest but the dorsal D-ring should always be the primary anchorage for attaching connecting devices such as energy absorbers because this connection point can evenly distribute the forces of fall arrest across a person’s body.
✔ In fixed ladder climbing applications, the front D-ring, however, is usually used for fall arrest to prevent the user from falling.
✔ For rescue, front D-rings or back D-rings can be used but rescuers can easily manage the victim's position if the front D-ring is connected. For limited access (confined space) applications, harnesses equipped with D-Rings on the shoulders are preferred for use to remove the user out of confined spaces where worker profile is an issue.
✔ To prevent fall hazards, either of them can be connected to a fall-restraint lanyard to restrict the user's movement.
Our Checkmate safety harness range also includes protective body equipment featuring 3 attachment points.
The Checkmate Work Positioning Harness features one rear fall arrest point and two work-positioning attachment points on the sides of the lower waist area. When a positioning lanyard connects the side D-rings of your harness to an anchor like a rebar tower, your body can be supported securely in place for work.
✔ When D-rings are connected properly, the work-positioning system allows you to perform delicate tasks with two hands and the upper body free while maintaining stability at an elevated height without having to worry about falls.
✔ Examples are tying rebar (or called reinforcing steel bar) during construction activities and installing a cellular antenna high on a steel pole without anchor points above. When we have to maintain a stationary position for a while, a bosun's chair can be put to use together with the harness to offer a comfortable seat.
TIPS: When connecting it to the rebar tower, don't' forget to have it across the intersection of two bars to prevent the hook from sliding horizontally or vertically in the event of a fall (as below). It maximizes the users' safety.
✔ Besides work positioning, this harness can be for fall arrest and work restraint techniques. Very Important: A back-up fall arrest system is always required in a work-positioning activity. Imagine you are tying rebar, you will change the anchor points as work progresses. Without the back-up plan, the risk of falling is very high.
The Checkmate Supine Harness – With Waist Belt features a waist belt with 2 work positioning D-rings while Fall arrest connectivity is achieved via dorsal and sternum D rings. The supine harness is a great addition to our selection to ensure the best possible situation for preventing further injury
✔ Work restraint (Any), work positioning (Side), fall arrest (Dorsal & Sternal)
✔ Designed to eliminate harness induced ‘Suspension Trauma’ after a fall by keeping the wearer in a supine position (lying face upwards) after falling from a height.
The FA2 5-Point Harness has been specifically designed so that, if you fall, you are in a position ready for rescuing and forces are distributed evenly on five points - dorsal, sternum, one on each side and abdomen - to prevent serious injury.
✔ Work restraint (Any), work positioning (Side), fall arrest (Dorsal & Sternal)
✔ The extra attachment point on the abdomen, called a low frontal, ventral or suspension point, can distribute the load between the waistbelt and the leg loops during suspended work or work positioning. However, it is not for fall arrest.
✔ The ventral point is ideal for professional rope access as it can attach a descender, a positioning lanyard, a progression lanyard etc.
Detailed Inspections: BS 8437: 2005 and INDG367 recommend intervals not exceeding 6 months, or 3 months where the equipment is used in arduous conditions e.g. demolition, steel erection, scaffolding, steel masts or towers with sharp edges.
Interim Inspections: They are additional to detailed inspections. Interim inspections will be required where the employer's risk assessment has identified a risk that could result in significant deterioration, affecting the integrity of the equipment before the next detailed inspection is due.
Pre-Use Checks: Very importantly, they should also be carried out each time, before the product is used. A visual check should be undertaken in good light and will normally take a few minutes.
It is essential that the person carrying out any inspection is competent to do so. In the case of pre-use checks, this is likely to be the user.
However, detailed and interim inspections should be carried out by somebody sufficiently independent and impartial to allow them to make objective decisions, and have appropriate and genuine authority to take the appropriate action. This does not mean that competent persons must necessarily be employed from an external company.
Safety lanyards are a vital link for those who work at height. When working a height, your safety harness ('B'ody Support) has to be connected to a secure anchor point ('A'nchor) with a safety lanyard ('C'onnecting Device) to form a complete fall protection system as discussed in the beginning. The lanyard is typically attached to the D-ring of a wearer' s safety harness to prevent him or her from falling to the ground.
So, it's crucial to pair your harness with the right fall protection lanyard.
Restraint lanyards are used to restrict the worker’s movement to prevent him/her reaching a location where a fall hazard exists. (Note: No fall happens in fall restrain activities) It is connected between the fall restraint attachment point (Dorsal or Sternal point) of your harness and the anchor.
Our qualified fall restraint lanyards:
In the event of a fall, a fall arrest lanyard or energy absorber will catch the fall, unlike fall restraint, and absorb the major forces created. Those absorbed by the user falling will reduce to less than 6Kn.
They are used in conjunction with compatible anchor points and a certified fall arrest rated full-body harness. Take a closer look at your harness to check all the clearly marked ''A'' tags that are certified for fall arrest purpose. Our qualified fall arrest lanyards or energy absorbers:
A fall arrest double lanyard, or called twin-legged lanyard, has 2 tails and 1 energy absorber. It allows users to keep one leg attached to an anchor while they can disconnect the other leg to another anchor. This means that the user is constantly attached to the structure, reducing the risk of falling.
This combination is ideal for climbing a ladder, traversing a structure or situations where users must disconnect the lanyard from one anchor point in order to connect to another.
By attaching the work positioning lanyard to the side D-rings of your harness, it supports your body securely in place while allowing you to perform delicate tasks with both hands at elevated heights, very useful for performing the pillars, trees, lattice constructions etc. Note: A work positioning lanyard is not a fall arrest lanyard which can catch a fall. A fall arrest system should be used together with a work positioning system.
We understand how important it is to have all fall protection equipment prepared before your busy day starts. MTN rigging experts cherry-picked a kit that is absolutely more than a safety harness and lanyard combo:
OSHA defines that it secures a wearer in a manner to distribute the fall arrest forces over at least the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest, and shoulders, with a means for attaching the harness D-rings to other components of a personal fall protection system.
A safety harness should be worn when working at a height of 4 feet. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fall protection has to be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry and 8 feet in longshoring operations.
A worker may lose consciousness in as little as 7 minutes after the initial fall. Another research indicates that suspension in a fall arrest device can result in unconsciousness followed by death in less than 30 minutes.
Prolonged suspension in a harness can cause suspension trauma, which, in turn, can cause serious physical injury or potentially death. Therefore, a rescue plan in place is very important in any fall arrest activity to ensure a rapid and safe rescue.
Suspension trauma, also known as harness hang syndrome, is the natural physiological response to the human body being held motionless in a vertical position. It occurs after a worker has fallen into a fall arrest harness and is suspended in a hanging position. Leg straps, at this moment, of the harness crush the arteries on the inside of the legs, cutting off blood circulation and blocking the blood supply to the brain and vital organs. This results in nausea, unconsciousness, and a drop in blood pressure and heart rate. OSHA identified that suspension trauma could be fatal within 30 minutes of the initial fall.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to protect against suspension trauma: personal protective equipment known as suspension trauma relief straps. Petzl AVAO® BOD FAST Harness also allows the user to remain suspended longer while waiting for rescue.
It is to relieve the pressure being placed on a worker's body after a fall has been arrested while working at height. With the aid of it, the worker can tolerate longer periods of suspension time as he can use the leg muscle to take the weight off of his arteries, allowing blood circulation to restore. This tool is particularly important when he works in a remote or a difficult-to-access location.
The capacity of a harness depends on each model, with the typical range being between 59kg and 140 kg based on the ANSI equipment regulation. Checkmate harnesses generally can support the user weight of 150kg including tools.
5 years according to ANSI/ASSE A10.32 before 2012. Although this information was removed after revision, the industry still follows it as a general rule. The life span highly depends on production, maintenance and care. A good rule of thumb is to inspect the equipment properly and regularly.
• Take the harness by the shoulder straps. Disconnect shoulder straps from connecting hook (fig.1)
• Move the straps over the head. Taking the harness by the belt, put them on over the feet. (fig.2)
• Connect the shoulder straps to connecting hook [Y] (fig.3)
• Adjust the belt strap. Necessarily protect free ends of the straps with the loops. Adjust the shoulder straps (fig.4)
• Fasten and adjust the thigh straps. Necessarily protect free ends of the straps with the loops (fig.5)
According to OSHA and ANSI, your safety gears should be inspected before each use and every 6 months by a competent person.
OSHA 1926.502(d)(21): Personal fall arrest systems shall be inspected prior to each use for wear, damage and other deterioration, and defective components shall be removed from service.
ANSI A10.32-2012: All fall protection equipment shall be inspected at least every six months after initial service by a competent person.
One important thing to note is full-body harnesses exposed to a fall arrest should be removed from service and replaced immediately. Download our Full Body Harness Inspection Checklist & Lanyard Inspection Checklist to assist your inspection work.
• Wash harnesses in lukewarm soapy water (ph neutral, 30 °C maximum), then rinse thoroughly with fresh tap water. (✓ Household Face & Body Soap; ✘Laundry Detergent, ✘Solvents, ✘Stain Removers, ✘Degreasers)
• Hang harnesses on a line to dry.
• You can wash your harness in a washing machine. Choose the 30 °C delicate synthetic setting, without a spin cycle. Wash the harness inside a thick cloth bag