Safety Harnesses: What You Need to Know
About two decades ago, fall protection merely consisted of just a body belt - and was hardly worn. In the event of a fall, when the forces exerted on the body becomes too great, the body belt could concentrate the forces into the victim’s waist, snapping them in half. While this snapping helped reduce the extent of the outcome, it was not the desired fall event outcome. And this is where safety harnesses come in; to protect you in a fall as much as possible. But how, exactly, do they accomplish this? Well, get the full details below.
Harnesses have a system of straps and buckles that help take the forces from the more vulnerable body parts such as the neck, stomach, and groin, and distribute them to the body parts best suited to absorb significant amounts of forces; the large muscles of the chest and shoulders, upper thighs, and the bony mass of your pelvis.
Besides distributing forces in a fall, full-body harnesses are designed to keep the victim upright. This is to allow the proper deployment of the victim and to keep their spine vertical to absorb the compressive forces during the fall effectively. While this is the optimal position for lowering and rescuing a victim to safety, it can cause blood pooling in their legs; which can rush to the heart resulting in a cardiac arrest. Rescue missions should be done with utmost carefulness.
Women have been facing some challenges with the typical harnesses - they were designed with men in mind. Fortunately, there are harnesses designed specifically for women - they are designed to reduce stress on the lower back, support the pelvic and hip area different, and to keep shoulder straps to the side of the chest. Ensure to check the product first to see if it will be a perfect fit for you.
Inspection of the harnesses is very key; ensure to have them inspected by a competent person either annually (Z359 Industrial) or semi-annually (A1032 Construction).
According to OSHA, the maximum harness working weight is 100 kg. Should the weight exceed this maximum working weight, you’ll have three important options:
- Stay on the ground.
- Look for other equipment with higher working weights.
- Arrange for custom made safety harnesses, but ensure to have a connecting device rated for such high working heights.
There are several safety harnesses available in the market today. However, not all of them are safe and made according to the right standards. So, how will you differentiate these products to find genuine ones? Well, it’s simple. All Personal Fall Protection Equipment must be tested and CE approved according to EN 361 standards. Always go for manufacturers and suppliers with CE accredited fabrications to avoid compromising on your safety and that of those around you.
It’s very important to note that a harness that doesn’t fit you or hasn’t been worn properly might not be effective, and you will put your safety at risk. Ensure to adjust all the straps and buckles to achieve a perfect fit. And stay safe.