By Jason Godfrey, General Manager
Last week I shared a video which showed not only why it’s essential to have fall protection in place, but also the benefit of making sure workers are trained on how to wear a harness correctly. The video showed two workers being thrown from a scaffold tower when a steel beam they were cutting hit the tower they were standing on. Their fall protection arrested their fall, but if they hadn’t been wearing their harnesses correctly, the consequences could have been far worse.
With this in mind, I thought it would be worth outlining the importance of harness training, particularly when it comes to how to inspect and wear a harness.
When selecting a harness it’s important to make sure you choose one designed specifically for the proposed work and anchorage point. For example, if you’re carrying out electrical installations, you may need a combination of fall arrest and positioning, in which case you would probably select a 5 point harness where the waist connectors are used for positioning.
Harnesses generally feature webbing, side, rear and frontal D-rings, lanyard connections and adjustable waist and leg straps. Wearing the wrong type of harness or wearing it incorrectly can lead to serious injury, or even death should a fall occur.
As with all PPE, harnesses must be examined at least 12 monthly and should also be subject to Pre-Use Checks, Detailed Periodic Inspections and Interim Inspections.
Pre-use checks must be carried out before each use and should include the following visual and tactile inspections:
- Webbing: Check for signs of damage such as bobbling/strained or badly pulled webbing, cracks, cuts or fraying as well as loose stitching or fading which may indicate the fibre structure has been compromised.
- Buckles: Make sure all rivets are tight and buckles aren’t bent, chipped or have sharp edges protruding and that all stitching is intact.
- D-Rings: Check for any signs of distortion, fatigue or rust and make sure the ring pivots freely.
- Plastic Loops: Check for broken, cracked or damaged loops.
- Straps and rope: Carefully check straps for signs of fraying or broken fibres. Inspect clips on straps and check for loose stitching.
- Label: Make sure the label includes the serial number, manufacturing and inspection dates.
How to wear a harness
Wearing a harness incorrectly can be just as dangerous as not wearing one at all, so it’s essential that those a wearing harness know how to put it on correctly.
Better safe than sorry
Harnesses form an integral part of fall protection systems so ensuring a harness is safe to use and fitted correctly is vital as users can suffer serious injury if they fall and the harness fails. Ideally all users and managers should be trained on harness selection, inspection and usage so that they understand fully how to ensure equipment is appropriate and safe to use.