In the construction industry, working at heights is a standard part of the job. But with increased height also comes an increased risk of falling.
Consequently, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, taking the lives of more than 359 construction workers in 2014. Personal fall arrest systems - body harnesses, lanyards, and connectors - are one method of protecting workers from injury and death by falls.
Fall arrest systems aren’t foolproof, however. Faulty or misused fall harnesses can be just as dangerous as no fall protection at all. But knowing what to look for when inspecting a fall arrest system, and how to properly strap on a harness, can save your life. Here are steps for inspecting and putting on fall arrest harnesses so that you stay safe while working at heights.
How to Inspect a Harness Before Using It
- Pick up the harness by its D-ring in the back.
- Gently shake the harness to let the straps fall in to place.
- Make sure the buckles are unfastened.
- Look for any damage, such as worn, frayed or missing threads, cracked webbing, or foreign material on the harness.
- Check the metal strap fasteners and d-ring to make sure they aren’t cracked or deformed.
- If your harness uses grommets, make sure they are firmly attached and are not deformed or otherwise damaged.
- Make sure buckle tongues are firmly attached and not bent.
How to Put on a Fall Arrest Harness
- Slip the harness over your shoulders like a vest.
- Make sure the D-ring is in the middle of your back, directly between your shoulder blades.
- Pull each leg strap up and fasten the buckles together.
- Stand up straight and adjust the length of the side body straps as needed to make sure there is no slack.
- Fasten the chest strap about mid-chest high.
- Adjust the chest strap as necessary to remove any slack.
- Make sure the shoulder straps and leg straps are snug, while still allowing full range of motion.
- Eliminate any excess slack by tightening the straps in the buckle.
- Make sure the loose ends of the straps are tucked into the strap retainers.
- With your hand held flat, you should be able to fit your fingers underneath your leg straps.
Watch a worker properly inspect and put on a fall arrest harness in this video: