Using a Safety Harness Correctly Saves Lives
When it comes to roofing work, working at height is a standard part of the job. However, working at height comes with an increased risk of falling and it’s vital that the correct safety equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) is available in order to minimise the risks. Here at Safety Fabrications, some of our products are designed to be used in conjunction with safety harness but, as we all know, fall arrest systems are not fool proof and a faulty or misused safety harness can be just as dangerous as using no fall protection at all. Knowing what you should be looking for when inspecting a fall arrest system and how to strap on a harness correctly can be a life-saver.
Inspecting a Safety Harness
- Pick up the safety harness by the D-ring on the rear of the harness and shake it gently to allow the straps to fall into place.
- Look closely at the harness to see if there are any signs of damage or wear, such as frayed, worn or missing threads, cracked webbing or any foreign material on the harness (dirt, oil, paint, cement, etc.).
- Check all of the metal strap fasteners and the D-ring to make sure they’re not cracked, bent or deformed in any way.
- If the harness features grommets, make sure they are all firmly attached and are not damaged or deformed.
- Make sure the buckle tongues/bars are firmly attached and have not become bent with use.
How to Put on a Fall Arrest Harness
- Slip the harness over your shoulders like a vest or backpack.
- Make sure the D-ring sits in the middle of your back, directly between your shoulder blades.
- Pull up the two leg straps and fasten the buckles together.
- Stand up straight and adjust the length of the side body straps until there is no slack.
- Fasten the chest strap at mid-chest height.
- Adjust the chest strap to remove slack.
- Make sure the shoulder straps and leg straps fit snugly whilst still allowing a full range of movement.
- Eliminate any excess slack by tightening the straps in a buckle.
- Make sure the loose ends of the straps are securely tucked into the strap retainers.
- You should still be able to fit your fingers (with your hand held flat) underneath your leg straps.
Safety harnesses should always be stored safely when not in use – hung in the storage area where they will not be crushed, bent or torn by other objects, including sharp tools (don’t just take them off and sling them into the back of a van). They should be stored away from heat or direct sunlight. Safety harnesses should also be cleaned regularly, ensuring that there are no substances that can degrade the materials or obstruct the view during the inspection process. Use a damp sponge (warm water only and never soak a safety harness as it could cause the materials to degrade). Use soapy water on the straps if necessary (no bleach, chlorine or abrasive cleaners) then rinsed thoroughly with clean water. Wipe the harness to remove most of the water and then hang it to dry.